Nairobi: Kenyan Confucius Institute sees 1st group of graduates

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu Oct 5 10:34:27 UTC 2006

Kenyan Confucius Institute sees 1st group of graduates 2006-10-05 05:16:58

    NAIROBI, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- Jacob Lukaka, who is going to graduate
from the University of Nairobi later this year, has already secured a job
-- to work for a Chinese travel agency in Kenya as a guide.  He received
on Wednesday a certificate of Chinese language course at the university's
Confucius Institute, a nonprofit school specializing in Chinese language
education and cultural communication.  Majoring in communications, Lukaka
has always had a special interest in China.

    "China is growing very fast, it's now a driving force in the world,
both economically and politically," he said. "The Kenyan government has
launched a look-east policy, and is benefiting from that."  Since many
Chinese are doing business here in Kenya and goods from China are
increasingly popular, Lukaka has seen great opportunity from the close
ties between the two countries. In order to take advantage of that
opportunity, "you have to first learn the language."  Including Lukaka, 18
students are graduating from the Confucius Institute as the first class
who started their courses late last year.

    Having learned the language for barely nine months, they can already
speak simple Chinese and even sing songs in Chinese. But for them, this is
far from satisfaction.  "I hope I can have a chance to get a master degree
in China, majoring in international relations," said Lukaka.  Lucy Mugo, a
linguistics student who has also completed her study at the institute,
said she is very interested in learning Chinese language and wants to
further her study in China, "just like Ruth."  Once a classmate at the
institute, Ruth Njeri, who gave an outstanding performance at the Chinese
Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students, was awarded a
scholarship for studying Chinese language at the Tianjin Normal University
in China for five years. She has studied there for three months.

    China and Africa in recent years are enjoying a closer tie, in areas
including trade, economy and culture. With a view to further promoting
cultural exchanges between China and the African countries, the
educational departments of China and Kenya reached an agreement in June
2004 to establish a Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi.
Since its official launch in December, 2005, the Confucius Institute has
been doing very well, said Isaac Mbeche, principal of the College of
Humanities and Social Sciences at the university.  "The collaboration
between Kenya and China is growing well and fast, especially in tourism
and trade sectors," said Mbeche Wednesday at the institute's completion
certificate award ceremony," to benefit from this, we are happy to have
such kind of institute, which can serve as the base for better
understanding between the two countries."


    Due to limited resources and lack of teachers, the university has to
restrict the number of students who can take the Chinese course, said the
principal who is also the dean of the Confucius Institute. Apart from the
first 18 graduates, there are over 30 students studying at the institute.
He promised that the university, together with its Chinese partner, would
try every effort to get more teachers and teaching equipment, so that more
Kenyans can have a chance to learn the Chinese language and culture.
Deputy Dean of the institute Song Lixian, who came from the Tianjin Normal
University in China, said that besides teaching Chinese here at the
institute, she is also trying to get more scholarships for Kenyan students
to study in China.

    The Confucius Institute program was designed by China National office
for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (NOCFL) to promote Chinese
teaching in the world and provide excellent teachers and learning
materials for overseas Chinese learners.  According to the NOCFL's
program, the number of Confucius Institutes around the world will reach
100 in the near future. In Africa there are currently three Confucius
Institutes respectively in Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe.


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