The Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone Wednesday awarded scholarships to eighteen university students across the country.
The scholarships were awarded to students from the three constituent colleges of the University of Sierra Leone - Fourah Bay College (FBC), Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM) and College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS).
Addressing recipients and other dignitaries, Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, HE Wu Peng said the scholarships were awarded in recognition of the students' excellence in academics and their good understanding of China and its contribution to China-Sierra Leone friendship.
Ambassador Wu said the gesture was the fruit of a longstanding cooperation between Chinese Embassy and the University of Sierra Leone in supporting the country's education sector.
He revealed that said during the interview to determine the awardees, they learnt that some of the students were troubled by economic constraints and could hardly afford tuition for college, but never gave up.
The Chinese envoy said some of the students had to find part-time jobs to support themselves, while others helped their parents with business and work.
He said the Chinese Embassy saw the spirit of perseverance and self-reliance in the successful students, which they highly appreciate and respect.
He remarked that the embassy was a friend who attaches great importance to human capacity and always stands ready to help indigent Sierra Leonean students fulfill their academic dreams.
He said the 'New Direction' agenda of President Julius Maada Bio has prioritised education, deeming it a strong pillar for the nation's development and the moral regeneration and revival of its people.
"As a good friend of Sierra Leone, China fully supports HE's New Direction Agenda and will continue to contribute to its success. Earlier this year, one hundred and eleven (111) Sierra Leonean students embarked on their study trip to China with funding from the Chinese Government," he said.
The Chinese ambassador added that various short term training programmes and courses provided by the Chinese government benefit hundreds of Sierra Leoneans every year.
He said the key to sound relations between states lies in the affinity between their people, and that as Chinese Ambassador in Sierra Leone he was dedicated to promoting people-to-people and cultural exchanges between the two countries.
He encouraged the students to learn more about Chinese culture, either through Chinese movies, songs or lectures at the Confucius Institute at the University of Sierra Leone.
Deputy Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Dr. Turad Senesie, on behalf of his ministry and the government of Sierra Leone, praised China's contribution to education in the country.
Dr. Senesie said the Bio administration believes that the only way Sierra Leone could transform was to build man power, adding that the scholarship ceremony underlines that fact.
Vice Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone, Professor Brigadier Foday Sahr remarked that the scholarship ceremony was not the first but a continuation of what has been happening for the over forty-five years of relationship between China and Sierra Leone.
He said Sierra Leone has benefited from China in various areas, including infrastructure, business, medical and education.
He said the beneficiaries should count themselves lucky to be awarded the scholarship and implored them to make use of the opportunity by studying harder.