Opinion: Aid in the education sector speaks volumes about Chinese-Namibian ties
Whenever I visit China, one of the things I marvel at is the huge expansion of development this country has achieved in the 70 years of the rule of the Communist Party of China. Since 1959, China has grown by leaps and bounds in every sector – much to the annoyance of its detractors. The huge strides in education in the country has contributed to the phenomenal growth of this country with a ballooning population of nearly 1.5 billion people.
What is impressive about the growth in education and other sectors is that China has always given aid to its partners in Africa – Namibia included. For instance, in 1994, the Ministry of Education of China agreed with the Namibian government to provide scholarship every year for several Namibian students to study for undergraduate, post-graduate and PhD degrees in China. In addition, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce had a project that has provided more than 100 full scholarships for Namibian students since 2010. Until now, China has accepted over 452 Namibian students under different scholarship programmes. Last year alone, the number of Namibian students who obtained the Chinese government scholarship is 57. Apart from that, last year, if the on-going schemes are counted, a total of 317 people have been sponsored to attend more than 50 training courses such as agriculture, disease control, tourism, industry planning, and so on. Also, 30 Namibians were invited to attend conferences or exchange seminars in China last year. Many Chinese-trained Namibians are serving the country in various capacities.
There are other key education projects that were initiated by the Chinese embassy in Namibia. Ambassador Zhang Yiming initiated and launched the Chinese Ambassador Scholarship in 2018, which aims to provide funding for learners from different regions in Namibia. The aim is to encourage them to study hard and change their destiny through gaining knowledge in different fields. In July 2019, all the 35 beneficiary schools from the 14 regions were covered and the first phase of the project was over then. Ambassador Zhang attended most of the awarding ceremonies and made inspiring speeches that were often reported by local media.
This project is designed to last for only 2 years, and the second phase has already started. So far, 10 beneficiary schools from Khomas, Hardap, Oshikoto and Ohangwena regions were awarded the scholarship of last year. It is predicted that the project will end in July 2020.
In another initiative, the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation and the Chinese embassy in Namibia launched the Panda Pack project last year. The project was first initiated in 2009, aiming at improving the well-being of children in rural areas. Each recipient gets a schoolbag containing basic stationery, educational toys and assorted supplies. The embassy also funded the construction of a classroom at Onashikuvu Combined School in Oshikoto region – the embassy furnished the classroom.
In 2018, 10 000 Panda pack school bags were donated to Namibian learners in primary schools. In 2019, the number increased to 40 000 school bags. More school bags will be distributed to schools. The project gives hope to many Namibian learners, as more regions will be covered.
The Chinese business community in Namibia has been able to plough back to the community by assisting in building roads and toilets for schools. Some of them donated building materials and others collected funds for local schools.
In 2019, the Chinese embassy donated 10 computers to Oshikoto region and 5 to Hardap region.
With the launch of China’s Belt and Road initiative, Namibians stand to benefit more in a variety of sectors. The initiative is aimed at the connectedness of economies around the world, with a win-win drive that will see small economies benefitting from the Chinese fast-growing economy. Africa will also benefit through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
*This contribution is the correct version of the opinion piece carried on 20 December 2019 - Editor
2020-01-17 07:46:21 | 4 months ago