China Social Work Research Centre

Peking University and Polytechnic University

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Since 2007, Peking University has been rolling out its social work program under its Department of Sociology, in a joint effort and strategic partnership with the Department of Applied Social Sciences (DASS) of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU). The primary purposes of the joint program are to foster the integration of social work theory and practice as a way to indigenize and professionalize social work in China, as well as provide training to enhance the problem-solving capacity of social workers towards achieving social development.

The two institutes co-founded the PekingU-Hong Kong PolyU China Social Work Research Centre. The Centre is devoted to the development and indigenization of social work theory and practice in China, aiming to develop a pipeline for leading scholars who are committed to the social change of China in the long term. To that end, strengthening the teaching capacity both undergraduate and graduate programs in social work is an integral part of the Center’s mission.

In 2012, ZeShan Foundation and Si Yuan Foundation jointly committed RMB20 million to establish a dedicated development fund. The fund will be critical to supporting the sustained growth of the Centre, so that it may develop into a leading institution for teaching and research in social work development, a think tank for social policy, and an international hub linking with social workers and social policy makers from mainland China, Hong Kong and the international community. The fund provides seed funding for research and program capacity building and enable PKU and the Center to leverage for external funding from the government and private sector.

In 2013, to commemorate the partnership, the compound of the Centre was renamed Si Shan Yuan (思善苑), taken from the names of the two sister foundations. During the unveiling ceremony on July 20, Prof. Zhou Qifeng, President of Peking University, presented Dr. Thomas Chen with the Outstanding Educational Contribution Award in recognition of his unwavering support for education in China.

In January 2014, a 4-day intensive training on social work curriculum development and capacity building was organized for about 100 Master of Social Work (MSW) instructors from various universities across China. Co-organized by Centre, the Social Work Teaching Guidance Committee under the Ministry of Education, and the China Association for Social Work Education, the training program attracted both local and international scholars and senior social work practitioners. Leading pracademics from the University of Chicago and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University participated as trainers in the workshop.

Peking University (PKU) is considered a cradle for higher education in modern China. It has been at the forefront in the teaching and research of humanities, social sciences and liberal arts education. Throughout its history, the university has distinguished itself in terms of intellectual freedom and leadership in social sciences and has produced and hosted man prominent Chinese thought leaders.

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Library Construction

Room To Read, Sri Lanka

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In 2010, ZeShan Foundation supported the fundraising concert for the construction of a library in the Vidyathilake Primary School in Sri Lanka, organized by the Room to Read chapter of the Island School in 2010. The event featured the world’s youngest professional guitarist by the Guinness Book of World Records, Yuto Miyazawa, was a great success.

The project has drawn input from parents and local community members in the construction process and is closely monitored by a local Construction Committee with guidance from the local R2R team. The local community is empowered and feels a sense of ownership through direct participation. Shortly after the completion of construction work, library was fully furnished and filled with almost 1000 books in July 2012. Having adequate light and good ventilation, the spacious 800-square-foot single-story building is welcoming and inviting to students. Training on how to develop reading skills, manage the library, and organize library activities were conducted for librarians and teachers to ensure that facilities will be fully utilized, and ensures the sustainability of the project. It is hoped that the library will be a catalyst to improve literacy and leave great impact on the local community.

Room to Read was founded by John Wood. The organization focuses on enhancing literacy and gender equality in education, so that “all children can pursue a quality education, reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world.”

Click here to read the completion report.

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Teaching Fellows in China

Teach for China, China

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In 2010, ZeShan, together with Si Yuan Foundation and River Star Foundation provided support for Teach For China, formerly named China Education Initiative, an NGO which seeks to reduce educational inequity in China by engaging recent college graduates in the United States and China. Providing an alternate teacher sourcing channel for public schools in China, TFC has developed a teaching fellows program to meet the pressing need for teachers in understaffed low-income schools, while fostering a cross-cultural constituency of young leaders positioned to advance the cause of educational equity.

Forty teaching fellows are placed at schools in teams of four, with two Americans and two Chinese to each team – living and working side-by-side. They strategize about how to motivate and influence their students, cooperate with local school administrations, collaborate with local teachers, and work to improve their students’ educational prospects. To ensure the relevance of its approach, TFC works closely with government partners on program design and implementation.

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Liberal Arts Education

Lingnan University, Hong Kong

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ZeShan Foundation believes in the impact of liberal arts education on young people, and has been a long-time supporter of Lingnan University, a liberal arts college in Hong Kong.

In 2006, ZeShan established the ZeShan Foundation Scholarship for students to participate in exchange programs abroad.  As of the academic year 2014/15, 107 students have benefitted from the scheme.

In April 2009, ZeShan supported Lingnan in organizing the “Coming-of-Age for Liberal Arts Education in 21st Century Asia-Pacific” Conference. It provided a platform for discussion on the long-term development of liberal arts education in the region. The two keynote speakers were Professor David Oxtoby, president of Pomona College in the United States, and Professor Peter McCagg, dean of international affairs at International Christian University in Japan.

In 2010, ZeShan supported Lingnan’s expanded Integrated Learning Program, designed to encourage students to embrace new ideas, acquire skills in learning and communication, appreciate different cultures, and develop a good physique. This co-curriculum program has developed a rich set of contents with consistently high quality to complement the formal curricula.

In 2014, twenty students were awarded scholarships to go on exchange programs in ten countries. Scholarship recipients of last year shared observations and reflections of their exchange experiences with members from the Foundation and this year’s awardees. ZeShan is keen to see transformation in the students through the experience.

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