The First Confucius Institute in Africa Has Seen over 15,000 Registered Students Since 2005

[Source]????CRI Online?[Time]????2019-08-13 16:13:45?

More and more young Kenyans learning Chinese

In Africa, thousands of miles away from China, learning Chinese is becoming a fashion sought after by young people. By June 2019, China has established 59 Confucius Institutes and 41 Confucius Classrooms in 44 African countries, making them important platforms for African students to learn Chinese language. The Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi in Kenya, established in December 2005, has enrolled more than 15,000 students over the past 14 years.

Ruth, one of the first batch of students in the Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi, can speak fluent Chinese. She was involved in singing “Unforgettable Tonight” in the Chinese Spring Festival Gala in 2013 and obtained her master’s degree from Tianjin Normal University after eight years of study. At present, she has returned to her hometown and become a local Chinese language teacher.

When it comes to her own experience of learning Chinese, Ruth said that at first she just wanted to learn a foreign language and did not expect that learning Chinese could change her life. She hopes that more young Kenyans would learn Chinese language to change the future of themselves and Kenya. She said, “I started learning Chinese at the Confucius Institute in 2005. At present, more and more Kenyans are learning Chinese at the Confucius Institute, because, in my opinion, it will be beneficial for their future. After all, the economic development and profound culture of China are now well-known to the world”.

The Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi, where Ruth is working, is the first Confucius Institute in Africa, whose unveiling ceremony was held on December 19, 2005. According to Xiao Shan, Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute, after more than ten years’ development, the number of registered students has grown from over 20 per semester at the preliminary stage to more than 500. The number of registered students has reached more than 15,000 in total. More than 80,000 Kenyans has participated in activities for experiencing Chinese culture.

Kenyan students learning how to make Zongzi in the Dragon Boat Festival (photo by Yang Qiong)

Xiao Shan said, “As the frontline staff of the Confucius Institute, we are very proud because such changes show that the number of people who are enthusiastic about Chinese is increasing, so is their passion for learning Chinese. The love for Chinese is also closely related to the vigorous development of China.”

In recent years, with the advancement of the Belt and Road Initiative, China and Kenya have become more closely connected in the political, economic, and cultural fields, and more and more young Kenyans are learning Chinese. The Kenyan government has decided that since 2020, fourth grade students (10 years old) and above will begin to study Chinese. According to Xiao Shan, at present, the Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi is working with the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development to develop syllabuses and undertakes the task of training local Chinese language teachers. So far, the syllabuses for the fourth and fifth grades have been completed and become increasingly mature. According to the work plan, they have already decided to pilot the Chinese language courses in 2020.

A Kenyan student learning drawing facial makeup in Beijing opera

Xiao Shan said, “We have been actively cooperating with the School of Education at the University of Nairobi to offer Chinese course to undergraduates as a credit course, so that students of the School of Education at the University of Nairobi can get credits by learning Chinese. When they graduate, they can be granted with Certificate for Teachers of Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages, which will be a great supply of local Chinese language teachers.”

A Kenyan student experiencing Chinese culture

Professor Isaac Mbeche, Acting Vice Chancellor of the University of Nairobi and Foreign Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi, has been cooperating with the Confucius Institute since 2005. In his view, the Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi has become an important base for teaching Chinese language and disseminating Chinese culture in Kenya and even in Africa, as well as an important bridge for enhancing the friendship between the two peoples. Professor Mbeche said that many Confucius Institute graduates play an important role in all walks of life. Some of them have become employees of the Mombasa Nairobi Railway, some work for Chinese-invested enterprises, and some are engaged in diplomatic service. He said that the next step is to encourage more young people to learn Chinese, and promote the “Chinese plus vocational skills” model.

Professor Mbeche said, “We have noticed that Confucius Institutes have attracted many people to learn Chinese and even helped them become Chinese language teachers or enabled them to study in other professional fields. I’m so excited about that.”

(Story by Yang Qiong, CRI Online, China Media Group)

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