The Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges of China’s Ministry of Education has disclosed that 30,000 new scholarships will be granted to African students for the next three years.
No country was named and the appropriation to each beneficiary country was also not mentioned when the announcement was made recently at a press conference in Beijing.
Over the last five years, China has provided 40,349 scholarships to African students, which is an innovative way of achieving the objectives of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), said Xu Tao, Director General of the Department.
Director Xu added that such initiative “promotes mutual learning of our civilizations (China and Africa) and shows that Africa and China are working together and will continue to strength people to people exchange for our friendship”.
The scholarships will be offer in various academic disciplines without limitations and will be based on countries respective human resource demands, and beneficiary countries’ governments will determine the specific areas of specialization they want their students enrolled.
Currently, there are about 60,000 African students studying communication, medicine, civil and computer engineering amongst other disciplines.
And Chinese Ministry of Education says students’ choices of studies are based on professions that are in high demand back on their continent.
Lack of skilled manpower is consider a major problem affecting Africa’s manufacturing potential, as many foreign companies ponder the possibility of setting up mega production plants across the continent.
In March this year, a senior official of China’s largest manufacturer of yellow machines said his company is contemplating opening a plant in Africa but is weary of several challenges including limited skilled work force on the continent.
And the official of Ministry of Education has also stressed the importance of skill training for African students.
“With economic development and industrialization in demand and apply technology is in short supply; corporation in vocational education is very important,” Mr. Xu said, adding that in order to implement capacity cooperation, the country has requested a technical company to help train Africans which he said is making progress in several countries including Zambia, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
China-Africa University Ties Deepen
In 2009, China launched its 20+20 plan to empower teachers and students exchange with African, Western and Asian nations.
The initiative, according to the country’s Ministry of Education, holds forums to highlight discussions between Chinese and African universities for research purposes in technology and other important areas.
Twenty African Universities from 17 countries have been paired with 20 Chinese universities to foster academic exchange and research.
“In recent years Africa is becoming a focus of attention for China and Africa studies in China have seen significant development, providing intellectual support for China Africa cooperation,” Mr. Xu said.
UNESCO has already embraced the 20+20 plan, and it’s being integrated in a proposal to strengthen university collaborations and partnerships.
“[This will] benefit the production of knowledge that fosters mutual understanding between China and African countries and the cultivation of top-level talents who can work effectively across borders,” the UN agency stated on its website.
At the same time, these Chinese universities have set up institutions of African studies, as the discipline significantly gains relevance at several other universities while the number of Africans at various universities continues to grow since 2011.
At the University of Zhejing in Shanghai, the number of African students there has increased from under 100 to 500 since last year.
The university has also improved connections with several think tanks on the continent, organizing seminars to exchange ideas.
Also at the Shanghai Normal University, over 150 African students participated in exchange programs every year since 2013, while teachers from the university volunteer in Africa in order to get firsthand knowledge about the continent. African professors from, on the other hand, have been invited to serve as lecturers at the university.
At the same time, China has expanded its popular Confucius Institute in Africa, setting up 48 in 27 countries and teaching Chinese culture to over 18,000 students.
by Alpha Daffae Senkpeni