Seychelles leader discusses education ties

By Zhu Zhe (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-11-03 07:04

Scholarships for Africans set to double
By Zhu Zhe(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-11-03 06:32

Guillaume Moumouni from Benin is studying for a doctorate of international politics at Peking University in Beijing.

He first came to China in 1990 as an undergraduate student on a Chinese Government Scholarship. He went on to complete his graduate studies here.

"Each time I came back to China, I always found China had made big progress both economically and politically," he said.

More African students are expected to arrive, as China plans to double the quota of Chinese Government Scholarship for African students, a senior official said.

The number of African students who can enjoy the scholarship may increase from the existing 2,000 a year to at least 4,000 by 2010, according to Li Jianmin, deputy secretary-general of China Scholarship Council, an institute responsible for the organization, management and provision of the scholarships.

Council figures show that China has increased the scholarship quota for African students from last year's 1,300 to around 2,000, about one fourth of the total China offers to foreign countries.

Most of them take majors such as physics, electronics, telecommunications, medicine, agriculture, and computer science in big cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Sponsored students will have their tuition waived and receive a monthly subsidy ranging from 800 yuan (US$100) to 1,400 yuan (US$175). The scholarship term varies from one year to seven years.

In 1956 China hosted its first four African students. They were from Egypt, which established diplomatic relations with China that year. It opened a new chapter in the history of educational exchanges between China and Africa.

As several African nations gained independence in the 1960s and established diplomatic ties with China, more students arrived.

African students have also brought to China their unique experiences and colourful cultures. Li described it as a "win-win situation."

However, while the number of sponsored students is growing rapidly, the number of those who come to China at their own expenses remains limited. According to the Ministry of Education, only 1,390 self-funded African students came last year, accounting for 2 per cent of the total 141,087 foreign students to China.

Money is considered the biggest obstacle, Li said. He reiterated that the Chinese Government welcomes African students and will offer them more help.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of African students come to China on scholarships from their home countries. Tanzanian and Rwandan governments signed agreements with the council last year to set up scholarships for their students who want to study in China.

Li said such a model would be further promoted, as many African countries have realized that what students learn in China has practical value, as China and African countries share many things in common, and the study is more economical than in Western countries.

Another student from Zambia who came to Beijing last year recalled the exciting moment when he saw the snow.

"It was my first time to see real snow," Nkuye Moyo said. "I rushed out to the yard and walked on the snow with only slippers and shorts on. It must have been the most beautiful moment for many African students like me."


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