Zambia: China Education Program Improves Lives of Young Zambian Students

Lusaka — An old Chinese adage which says "Education can change a person's fate and rejuvenate his or her country" is about to come true for 32 Zambian students who have been given scholarships to study at various universities in China.

The 32 students have been selected under the Chinese government scholarship program for 2013 from over 1,000 students that applied for the scholarships.

"University education is very expensive in Zambia and this is a dream come true for me. The quality of education in China will help me become a better student and help my country when I come back," Mwenzo Chitafu, who is going to study medicine at Tongji University in China's business hub Shanghai, told Xinhua on the sidelines of a farewell reception for the students held at the Chinese embassy premises.

The student, who completed his senior secondary education last year, has since urged the Chinese government to continue with the scholarships, which, he said, have been helping many families who cannot afford tertiary education in Zambia because of the exorbitant charges.

"There are many young people in Zambia who are brilliant but cannot afford to continue with their education because they don't have money. So these scholarships are really helping Zambia a lot and they should continue," he added.

For Bright Kamawu, who is going to study electrical and information engineering at Beihua University in northeastern Jilin Province, he feels honored to be among those that have been selected, saying he will use the opportunity to the best of his ability.

"Studying in China will help me because the standard of education in China is better. I will use the knowledge to help my country in the area of engineering when I come back," he said.

The student, who thanked the Chinese government for the scholarships, said the initiative is helping build bilateral relations between the two countries, adding that many young people who are brilliant but have no finances are benefiting a lot.

William Funsani, who is going back to China for his Masters' Degree in Industrial Economics at Nanjing Agriculture University, said the Chinese government may not fully understand the impact the scholarships are having on Zambian communities.

"Apart from helping the students acquire knowledge, these scholarships have far-reaching implications as communities where they (students) come from are also impacted. So, China is helping in shaping our communities," he added.

On his part, Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Zhou Yuxiao said China takes education very serious as it has been playing a positive role in the country's earthshaking changes in the last 30 years, hence the decision to help young people acquire quality education.

"Young people are the cream of the nation. For every country all over the world, the youth are the hope and the future. For you as the top ones among the young generation of Zambia, the responsibility upon your shoulder is to create a better future for your country. Please cherish your opportunities and study hard to bring more knowledge back to make Zambia more prosperous and a better homeland," he told the students.

According to the Chinese envoy, China has provided 588 scholarships to Zambia since 1978, adding that about 400 Zambian students are currently studying in various universities in that country.

Furthermore, China trains about 200 Zambians annually in short- term courses on agriculture, aquatic culture, small enterprises, management and sports, he added.

Following the Beijing Action Plan of Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the Chinese government will implement the African Talents Program and train 30, 000 personnel in various sectors for Africa, offer 18,000 government scholarships from 2013 to 2015.

Zambia's Deputy Minister of Education Professor Nevelyn Willombe thanked the Chinese government for the scholarships, saying it is a mark of true friendship.

"These scholarships are enabling young people to go to China and learn in key fields which are relevant to Zambia's development. This is a true mark of friendship," he added.

- Xinhua

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