China, Africa join forces to empower youth

By Guardian Reporter , The Guardian
Published at 05:10 PM Mar 28 2024
Asha Fum Khamis, a Tanzanian Chinese teacher at the Confucius Institute at the University of Dar es Salaam, talking with a student during a Chinese language class in Dar es Salaam,
Photo: FILE
Asha Fum Khamis, a Tanzanian Chinese teacher at the Confucius Institute at the University of Dar es Salaam, talking with a student during a Chinese language class in Dar es Salaam,

IN the early morning, students enter the Ethiopian Luban Workshop located in a three-storey building of a vocational training institute in eastern Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, where they are imparted industrial skills and taught robotics technologies.

Over the past decade, more than a dozen similar institutions have opened across Africa, symbolizing China's commitment to sharing its vocational education expertise with the continent. Alongside numerous other China-Africa talent-building cooperation projects, these schools help drive the region toward modernization and sustainable development.


A group of Luban Workshop students were captivated by their 39-year-old teacher, Yonas Akele, who demonstrated the operation of automated equipment from China, simulating the production process on assembly lines.

The Luban Workshop, named after an ancient Chinese architect, is a vocational training program established in around 20 countries for local communities.

Having once studied in China, Yonas was inspired by Luban Workshop's integration of theoretical knowledge with practical engineering. Upon his return to Ethiopia, Yonas landed a teaching position here.

"Young Ethiopians are fortunate to have this learning opportunity, and I hope to see more Luban workshops established across Ethiopia," Yonas said.

Jiang Jiang, head of the Ethiopian Luban Workshop, outlined the facility's specializations, such as industrial sensors, industrial control, industrial robots and mechatronics.

"When China and Ethiopia collaborated on establishing the Luban Workshop, Ethiopia voiced a need for an advanced training platform catering to key manufacturing sectors, particularly in areas like automated production," Jiang said.

"The employers are delighted with our graduates' performance," Jiang noted, adding that some companies have expressed interest in training their workers at the workshop.

The workshop has organized five training sessions in partnership with local governments and international organizations, benefiting nearly 200 talents from Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and other nations.

As the Ethiopian proverb goes, "He who learns, teaches." These trained African instructors bring advanced knowledge and technology to their respective communities, thus catalyzing Africa's demographic dividend toward sustainable development.

In collaboration with nations like Tanzania, Seychelles, Rwanda and Ethiopia, the China-Africa Vocational Education Alliance has been revising and developing job standards and professional teaching norms for critical industries in these countries.

Franklin Rwezimula, deputy permanent secretary in Tanzania's Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, said China can help Tanzania develop a new generation of skilled professionals who know how to drive innovation and build entrepreneurship, thus benefiting sustainable economic growth through training.



Africa is facing increasing risks of disease outbreaks and health emergencies related to climate change, such as a disproportionately high rate of malaria deaths. According to the World Health Organization, African countries accounted for about 94 percent of all malaria cases globally and 95 percent of deaths in 2022. To improve medical services, China has been dispatching medical personnel and aid to African countries for decades.

Since 2007, the China Malaria Prevention and Control Project Team in the Comoros has led malaria prevention efforts and training in collaboration with the Comoros Anti-Malaria Center. By 2017, the diligent efforts of experts from both nations had reduced malaria incidence in the Comoros by over 99 percent, effectively eradicating malaria-related fatalities.

Kamal Said Abdallah, the 47-year-old laboratory director of the Comoros National Malaria Control Center, has been working closely with Chinese medical professionals for 12 years.

After graduating from Tianjin Medical University, Kamal served as an interpreter for the China-Comoros Anti-Malaria Cooperation Project before transitioning to more hands-on anti-malaria work, with training sessions in China. He elaborated on the complexity of distributing anti-malarial drugs, which he said demands specialized training and guidance.

Deng Changsheng, leader of the China Anti-Malaria Project Team in the Comoros, detailed the extensive training efforts conducted between 2018 and 2021, saying it has benefited over 4,000 local personnel involved in malaria prevention and control.

He said these initiatives have enhanced the Comoros' medical and healthcare systems, nurturing local talent crucial to maintaining progress.

For over half a century, Chinese medical teams and experts have been at the forefront of combating regional diseases and major public health crises, providing comprehensive training for local medical personnel and enhancing Africa's healthcare capabilities.

Pemba Island in Zanzibar, Tanzania, once had a high prevalence of schistosomiasis - an acute, chronic, and disabling parasitic disease - but has witnessed a significant decline in recent years, thanks to Chinese medical expertise and collaboration with local health officials. In December last year, the first technical capacity training on schistosomiasis detection was organized on Pemba Island, enhancing the diagnostic capabilities of local medical institutions.

Seleh Juma Muhammed, an official from the Zanzibar Ministry of Health with four decades of experience in schistosomiasis prevention and treatment, praised the efficacy of Chinese integrated control methods and expressed a dedication to learning from Chinese experts and working with local communities.




As China and African countries strengthen relations and increase exchanges, more African youth are starting to learn about Chinese culture. Asha Fum Khamis, a 32-year-old Tanzanian Chinese teacher at the Confucius Institute at the University of Dar es Salaam, said that learning Chinese transformed her life.

"If it weren't for learning Chinese and receiving a scholarship to study in China, I would still be fishing on a small boat in Zanzibar," Khamis said.

Khamis attests to the growing popularity of Chinese language learning in Tanzania, calling it an international language that opens doors for youth employment and career prospects in Africa.

Of the 300-plus students she has taught, many have found jobs in local Chinese firms, while around 50 have opted for careers in Chinese language education, reflecting the language's increasing importance in Tanzania.

Established in 2013, the Confucius Institute has seen more than 100 teachers and volunteers from China come to Tanzania and train more than 60,000 Chinese language learners.

In recent years, a growing number of Tanzanian students have been applying to study engineering, technology, medicine and other professions in China after learning the language.

"The Chinese language is the language of the day across the globe. It is the language that unlocks opportunities for the youth, locally and globally," said Khamis.

To meet diverse educational needs, Confucius Institutes in Africa integrate Chinese language education with other disciplines to nurture versatile talent.

In Senegal, a West African country aiming to boost its agricultural output, the Confucius Institute at Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar collaborates with Chinese agricultural specialists to offer a distinctive program that combines Chinese language education with agricultural technology.

"Throughout the training, I did not only acquire Chinese vegetable cultivation techniques but also enhanced my language ability," said Moussa Dione, one of the program's participants. "These skills are invaluable for my future career prospects."