The Confucius Institute Headquarters/Hanban of China convened its Joint Conference of Confucius Institutes in Africa in Lusaka, Zambia, at the Mulungushi International Conference Center from the 18th - 19th of May, 2017. The Conference Themes: Local Teacher Training; Vocational and Technical Training by Confucius Institutes (CI) and the Cooperation between Confucius institutes and Chinese-funded agencies. The Joint Conference was co-hosted by the Confucius Institute at the University of Zambia and supported by the Chinese Embassy in Zambia.
Participants in the CI Conference included Delegates from 54 Confucius institutes and classrooms from 35African countries and delegates from Chinese partner universities, representatives from the Embassy of People’s Republic of China in Zambia, representatives from China-funded organisations and representatives from Confucius Institute Headquarters, Hanban. The Co-Deans of the DUT Confucius Institute, Professor Eddie Chaobo FU, Professor Graham Stewart and Mr. Devanathan Govindasamy, the Special Assistant to the CI Deans, represented DUT at the Joint CI Conference in Lusaka.
The aim of the Conference was to implement the Development Plan of the Confucius Institutes (2012-2020), exchange experiences and to enhance cooperation and to promote the development of Confucius institutes in Africa.
The Zambian Vice-President Inonge Wina said the new chapter of cooperation between China and Africa lies in the ability of Confucius Institutes to bring peoples together through the promotion of language and culture. "We can make Confucius Institutes places of great cultural exchanges for the good of our peoples. Confucius Institutes have brought us closer. They have highlighted the beauty that lies behind our diversity," she said in a speech read on her behalf by Minister of General Education Dennis Wanchinga at the start of the two-day conference in the Zambian capital, Lusaka.
The Zambian Vice-President also expressed gratitude to the Confucius Institute Headquarters in China for building a Language and Cultural Museum at the Confucius Institute in Zambia to promote both Chinese and Zambia language and culture. After their guided tour of the recently completed Zambian CI multi-story building and its first-world facilities, the DUT CI delegates consider this CI facility as a Model that should be replicated all over Africa, particularly at DUT.
She also informed that her Government was committed to ensuring that the relations with China will continue to grow and stated that the Zambian Government has since chosen Chinese as one of the three foreign languages being taught in schools while the Chinese language is being incorporated into the syllabuses for junior and senior secondary schools.
The Chinese Ambassador to Zambia, Mr Yang Youming, advised the Confucius Institutes to cater for the actual learning demand of people in different countries and also to take into consideration the unique conditions of each country. The Chinese envoy said it was obvious that the Confucius Institutes have become platforms of cultural exchanges between China and African countries and expressed gratitude at the uptake of the Chinese language by the citizens of Zambia. According to him, since its establishment seven years ago, the Confucius Institute had developed significantly in Zambia, with one Confucius Institute, two CI Classrooms and 17 Chinese language teaching stations, with more than 8,000 students.
At the request of the Confucius Institute Headquarters/Hanban, China, DUT’s CI Chinese/Co-Dean Director Professor Eddie C Fu, co-chaired the three Theme-focused Panel discussions with his Zimbabwean counterpart, Professor Pedzisai Mashiri. These sharing and discussion sessions provided valuable insights into the “best practices” and challenges facing the CIs across the African continent. Professor Graham Stewart and Deva Govindasamy took advantage of these Panel discussion sessions to highlight the achievements of the DUT CI during the past four years. A summary of the Panel discussions and recommendations on the future developments of the African Confucius Institutes was presented by each of the Panel Leaders and was well received and applauded by all the Joint Conference Delegates.
The Joint Conference of Confucius Institutes in Africa provided an excellent opportunity to establish network communications among the Chinese and African Delegates and the DUT CI representatives will share their experiences and reflections with members of the DUT CI Advisory Board, the DUT Academic community and students, in their efforts to further expand the DUT CI Project and to endeavor to replicate the Zambian CI Model and its best practices at DUT.