MANILA, August 22, 2005
 (STAR) By Marianne V. Go - The education sector in the country is gearing up for a larger share of the China market worth about $54 billion.

According to the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), there are three to five million young Chinese eager to pursue education outside China.

"Judging by the growing importance of education in today’s knowledge economy, the number of Chinese wanting to study in English-language schools is more likely to soar," said Trade and Industry Secretary Peter B. Favila.

Analysts forecast that the global demand for international higher education will exceed seven million students by 2025, with 70 percent coming from Asia.

"The Philippines wants to position itself as a world-class education provider by promoting the country’s capabilities on education services such as English as second language, undergraduate and post graduate degree programs, especially those related to medicine and business," Favila said.

To promote the country’s education services in the global market, a local delegation will be joining the China Education Expo from Oct. 15 to 16 at the China World Trade Center in Beijing.

The Expo, China’s biggest education fair, will feature 274 companies and institutes of higher learning from different countries like Canada, Australia, United States, UK and Asia.

Since its membership in the World Trade Organization and in preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games to be held in China, many Chinese have opened up to English language education and foreign exchange programs.

In 2004, seven Philippine educational institutions joined the China Education Expo where they generated $1.36 billion in sales.

"We can explore a niche in China’s 1.3 billion market. We can tap this market for our education services as well as the English language needs of its corporate and hotel industries," said Favila.

Likewise, China’s provincial universities also offer opportunities for tie-ups and foreign exchange programs with Philippine universities.

Last year, the Polytechnic University of the Philippines signed a memorandum of agreement with China’s Anyang Institute of Technology in Henan, China for future programs while also highlighting the friendly, mutually beneficial relationship between Chinese universities and the Philippines.

Currently, there are 657 joint educational ventures and programs in China, a huge jump from 70 in 1995, according to government statistics.

Countries in North America, Europe and even some parts of Asia have been changing their educational policies in order to attract more Chinese students.

According to the China Education and Research Network (CERNET), a website dedicated to education and research in China funded by the Chinese government, the reported total expenditures for education in China stood at 2,531.7 million yuan in 1997 alone.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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