A warm welcome back to you all after what I hope has been a rewarding half term with plenty of relaxation and recharging (and I am not talking about your phones!).
I was fortunate to be invited to the Far East over the half term and was lucky enough to spend time in Malaysia and China. I had never been to Malaysia before and had visited China for the first time some 5 years ago with a group of Somerset Head teachers to experience first-hand this remarkable place. We think we know China. My recent visit took me rapidly through my preconceptions; dismantled them, challenged, confirmed and left me wanting to learn more about the people and its rich culture.
I was truly taken aback by both Malaysia and China – the incredible growth, their ambition, the hospitality and generosity of their people and their respective visions. I was surprised at how teachers were respected out there (the British Government can learn a lot from their Far East counterparts) and their focus on education. So much so, I was invited to speak at the 42nd Global Education Conference in Hefei which was attended by thousands – it’s a big deal out here. This may be a “small” city in the depths of south China, living in the shadows of Beijing and Shanghai but it was also a beautiful and modern city with a population of some 7.8 m (in comparison London is 8.8m and Shanghai is a staggering 25m). The tall skyscrapers, vast shopping malls, bullet trains, theatres, libraries and hotels suggest a city that is going places. The pace of change is relentless. As I travelled to and from various cities in China, it gave me the opportunity to witness just how much development is going on in this vast country.
I do hope that both DLD College London and the various agents and schools I met with, will over the coming years help strengthen this very important and special relationship and that we will all strive to provide valuable educational opportunities for our students which will enrich their international perspective and provide a cultural dimension to their learning.
I look forward to welcoming the China team and our friends in China and Malaysia to London in due course and me returning with a group of DLD students to experience what life is actually like in the Far East.
Irfan H Latif