Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, H.E Hu Zhangliang on Wednesday bade farewell to 116 Sierra Leoneans students, who departed the shores of Sierra Leone to study in China.
Speaking to the departing students and government ministers at a farewell party organised at the Bintumani Hotel in Freetown, the Ambassador said the event has become renowned, as each year the Chinese and Sierra Leonean governments would award different types of scholarships to students for post and undergraduate programmes.
He said for several years, the Embassy has been organizing China Night to congratulate and bid farewell to students that are awarded the Chinese government scholarship.
"I would like to extend my warm congratulations to all the 116 scholarship winners, who are going to open a new chapter of life in China. And I wish to thank the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for your strong support to China- Sierra Leone educational cooperation and to this event," he said.
The Ambassador said since China and Sierra Leone established diplomatic relations in 1971, the two countries have maintained close educational cooperation and so far over 800 Sierra Leonean students have been accorded opportunities to study in China under the Chinese government scholarship programs, among them more than 100 scholarship students, were recruited in each of the last three years.
He revealed that this year the Chinese government launched a new program called "China-Africa Friendship scholarship" and 10 Sierra Leonean students were admitted.
"I am also glad to know that there are a number of Sierra Leonean students going for study in China on self-sponsored basis," he said.
He said last year, President of China, Xi Jinping met with President Bio in Beijing and reached a consensus on deepening bilateral cooperation in various fields between the two countries, in addition to education, the two countries have also conducted a fruitful cooperation in health, infrastructure, trade, agriculture, training, fishery and other areas.
"As was agreed at the FOCAC Beijing summit, China will continue to work with African countries including Sierra Leone in the building of an even stronger China- Africa community with a shared future," he said.
He continued that education determines the present and future of humanity and that any country needs to continuously cultivate the talents needed by society through education.
He added that over the past 70 years, China has devoted substantial resources to the development of education and achieved globally recognized success.
He noted that in 2018, there were 2,663 institutions of higher education in China, with 38 million students studying in various forms of higher education, with gross enrolment rate of higher education is 48.1%.
He said the universities that will admit the 116 students are prestigious ones that Chinese students dream to enter.
He assured the students that there are favourable learning environment, outstanding peer recruits and excellent faculties.
"The 116 scholarship receivers will major in agricultural management, clinical medicine, economics, computer science and technology, and other areas Sierra Leone needs most. I believe that upon your completion of your study years later, you will make important contributions to the development of your motherland," he said.
Minister of Technical and High Education, Professor Aiah Gbakima noted that the students heading for China to study were lucky to be awarded the scholarship as others were equally looking for such opportunity.
He asked them to put up their best behaviours in China as they are not only ambassadors of Sierra Leone to China, but also ambassadors for themselves and their families.
He noted that a positive behaviour would make the government of China knows that Sierra Leoneans are ready to learn, thus emphasising that the Chinese government would not allow people who take drugs or fight each other.
"Whatever area you study, I want you all to come here and give us a good result and I hope that you people will mount the Green, White and Blue flag in China," he said.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Solomon Jamiru said the Chinese Ambassador organised the program to celebrate a bond that would keep the two countries together.
He said the scholarship was certified by the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education, thus admonishing the students to focus on their studies and make the nation proud.
"I want to congratulate all students who made it to study in China," he said.