By Steve Koehler
Their languages and locations may be far apart, but education leaders from Ozarks Technical Community College and Shanghai, China, have a very similar mission — educating their citizens.
A contingent of educators from Shanghai toured the Springfield and Branson campuses of OTC Thursday as part of a fact-finding mission the group was on to learn about the American education system.
The Shanghai community college system is very similar to OTC with students attending two or three years after high school graduation to earn a 2 year transfer degree or learn a technical trade, officials said.
“Their target is to provide services to the area around it,” said Tony Cheng, who attended a community college in Shanghai before coming the Branson to perform in the Shanghai Circus School.
The Chinese educators met with OTC President Hal Higdon and OTC board member J. Howard Fisk to discuss everything from what types of degrees OTC offers to the funding mechanism and sources that OTC receives.
“I was impressed with their curiosity and level of interest in the community college system. Like us, they feel the community college is the best route of Americans in gaining an education,” Higdon said.
Similar to OTC, the Shanghai school system receives funds from the government but students also pay to attend school, similar to the way American students do.
More than 200,000 students attend community colleges in Shanghai, more than twice the number that attends all the public community colleges in Missouri. OTC’s enrollment is more than 11,000. There are 140 two-and four-year colleges in Shanghai, a city of 17 million.
“We have a very deep appreciation for (OTC) and how it has served the area around here. The environment is very pretty,” said Dai Xiaofu, the head of the delegation and deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Education Committee, through an interpreter.
The delegation of about 10 toured OTC’s technical and allied health centers, viewing the automotive and diesel repair shops along with the dental laboratories. They ate lunch at the student-operated restaurant Scallions where some of the visitors tasted Cajun food for the first time in their lives.
Later in the day, the group traveled to Branson to visit OTC’s education center and to watch graduation at the Shanghai Circus School, held for the first time in the U.S.
Steve Koehler is coordinator of publications for OTC.
College Director of Communications
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Phone: (417) 447-2666