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Since the very beginning in 1994, Waldorf education has spread like wildfire in the Chinese-speaking world. In Taiwan, Waldorf education became publicly known after a national kindergarten conference in 1994.
With the help of founder Chu- en Sue Chang a first Waldorf class was opened in Lo Tung (Taiwan) in 1999, with seven children, one teacher and two subject teachers for English and arts and craft. Ci Xing is the only publicly funded Waldorf school in Asia, and with its over 600 children (excluding kindergarten), it is the largest Waldorf School in East Asia. In 1995 the first kindergarten started out in Tai Chung in central Taiwan. Today there are three more small Waldorf schools in Tai Chung and several kindergartens. Further- more, small school- and kindergarten initiatives have emerged in various other places.
The preliminary work of the Taiwanese colleagues was and is extremely important for the further development of Waldorf education in this area, as they developed the basis for a Chinese curriculum, translated many texts and gained practical experience. Today the Taiwanese Waldorf movement hosts teacher observations, teacher training and conferences. The well-functioning cooperation in the Chinese-speaking world is surprisingly untouched by the political situation of the two neighbouring countries.
In China, Waldorf education became generally known by the activities of Eckart Löwe, a former student of a Waldorf school in Hamburg, who first founded a school for blind people in Nanning and then worked with children and adolescents in a remote mountain area. The media praised him for his work. In Chengdu, the first kindergarten finally started in 2004, when Li Zhang returned from her training in the United States and together with her husband, built up a Waldorf initiative under very simple circumstances. Today, Chengdu offers six kindergarten groups, eight school grades and educator and teacher training.
Through communication via Internet a lot of interest has developed for Waldorf education, so that kindergartens and schools now extend throughout the whole country, from Maoming to Urumqi, from Chengdu to Qingdao. The movement has grown so that now there are four three-year training courses and the region has its own coordinator (who consults with ten employees), seeking to strengthen the cohesion and quality of work. More growth is already predictable (in September, the number of kindergarten groups increased to 172), however, a lot of cooperation among colleagues is still necessary in order to really achieve further growth.
We have also launched an own team of translators, with the task to ensure that the work of Rudolf Steiner, is translated from German into Chinese and is therefore accessible in a reasonable, but not simplified language. Fortunately, we were able to find translators who have a deep understanding of the Chinese language and culture, and of German philosophy, but who also have the necessary skills to tackle the challenge of translating Steiner’s work.
Soon we will certainly continue to report on changes. For, as our colleagues say in China, one year in Europe is equivalent to one month in China.