Chinese School in Reunion Island

The first Chinese school in Reunion Island was founded in Saint-Denis in 1927. Later, it had to close down because of lack of teachers. Bilingual schools developed and both Chinese and French were taught in these schools, with more hours devoted to French. When the island became a French colony, Chinese education further declined as there was a perception among parents that knowledge of Chinese was no longer essential especially when there was no option of returning to China. Children born in the 50s went to French schools and many of them don’t speak Chinese today unless they took up Mandarin in Universities or had a stint in China or Taiwan. Ultimately the generation born after World War II has an identity crisis. Failing to keep both their language and culture, they were rather out of place as they look Chinese and are identified as Chinese or people of Chinese descent. Speaking Creole or French but not being able to participate in either Creole or French cultural activities, it comes to a point that some become ashamed of being Chinese.

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Reunion Island is a small island in the Indian Ocean about 880 km east of Madagascar. The first batch of Chinese came to the island around 1844 as foreign labour in agriculture, forestry and dam building.They were treated not better than slaves. Working and living conditions were appalling as their employers were merely after profits

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