UNIZIK partners China on cultural exchange -By Chidi Ebere

Filed under: Educational Issues |



The Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, otherwise known as UNIZIK is certainly using its well established diplomatic links with foreign countries to promote multilateral relationship between Nigeria and the China through its Confucius Institute.

According to the University authorities, the Confucius Institute is a unique discipline that provides a focus for convergence of technologies. Its uniqueness naturally defines its role and dictates its increasing relevance in several disciplines and modern practices and techniques. The scope of application of Confucius Institute in the modern scientific and technological context is, therefore, infinitely wide.

Students are equipped and are encouraged to function, research and engage in collaborative projects in wide professional contexts. Perhaps, it was in a bid to improve these ties that the government of China through an agency known as HANBAN established a centre for the learning of Chinese language and culture at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. Known as the Confucius Institute, the centre was officially commissioned in March 7, 2008 by the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency, Mr. Xu Jianguo represented by the Cultural Counsellor/attaché, Mr. Jiang Weiming.

The relationship was consummated through a Chinese partner institution, Xiamen University, which entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, for exchange of staff, students and research programmes. Record shows that about 111 students from Nnamdi Azikiwe University are currently studying in China under the initiative while nearly 2000 students have graduated from the Chinese language school at the Confucius Institute, UNIZIK, Awka. Many Chinese are also at Nnamdi Azikiwe University teaching Chinese language while some others are reading Igbo language and culture. One of the Chinese, Mr. Yang Song, was offered admission to study History and International Relations at PhD level in UNIZIK during the 2011/2012 academic session. Thus, the Confucius Institute which began in NAU in 2008 with award of certificates in Chinese language and culture now offers degree programme in the University.

Just recently, 34 students of UNIZIK bagged scholarship of the Confucius Institute to study in different universities in the Peoples Republic of China. The Vice Chancellor, Professor Joseph Eberendu Ahaneku who made this known to journalists in Awka expressed joy that the goals and objectives of the Institute which came into being in 2008 but commenced academic operations the following year were gradually but steadily been realized.

Ahaneku noted that the University and China have been interacting and partnering in diverse ways including education, technology, culture and language. He revealed that the Director of the Confucius, Prof. Ji Nengwen, had been in Nigeria since 2008 even as he has become a Nigerian in many ways like taking up Igbo name of Chukwuka, dressing in Nigeria attire and eating Nigerian food.

In the beginning, the Confucius Institute started off awarding Diploma Certificates in Chinese Language and Culture but it now undertakes a degree programme in Chinese Studies.

Taking it from there, the Institute, founded by Chinese Government has made it possible for both Nigeria and China to strengthen their diplomatic ties and relationships. It is a common knowledge that there are many Chinese companies and firms operating in Nigeria and the immediate need is always to come to the Confucius Institute at UNIZIK to look for interpreters and the University has been performing this intermediary role effectively. Through the interpreters provided by UNIZIK, most Chinese investors and visitors now speak both Nigerian languages as well as English even as interaction and transactions are hereby made easier.

This is why, according to the Ahaneku, the Confucius Institute, was founded in partnership with the Chinese Government as a centre for training in the Chinese Language and Culture as well as to promote good relationship between Nigeria and China in terms of knowledge, industrial revolution, commerce and ICT. He thus tasked the beneficiaries of the scholarship award and all the Nigerian students especially those who made it to the Orient Country on the bid of the UNIZIK Confucius Institute, to comport themselves accordingly during their stay in China because they are there as Nigeria’s education and cultural ambassadors.

He charged them to aspire to acquire the needed skills that would help Nigeria’s dream of economic and technological transformation.

Another importance of the affiliation between UNIZIK’s Confucius Institute and China is the area of Proficiency Test – a must for any student dreaming of studying in China. The Proficiency Test is what guarantees a student seeking to study in China a place and confirmation for his studies. It is interesting to note that Nigeria through UNIZIK, leads other West African students in Proficiency Studies. For instance, last year, 24 students qualified for the Open Door for research and this was achieved through scholarship schemes.

This year, as has been stated above, 34 Nigerians still clinched the scholarship awards to study in various Chinese universities. According to the breakdown, 12 out of the 34 are for Masters Degree proggrame, four are going to China for a four year training and the others are for two years training course in eight different universities in China.

To make the Confucius Institute more effective and to widen its scope, authorities at the UNIZIK decided to extent the School to the Polytechnics at Oko, Anambra State by establishing a Study Centre as well posting a Chinese teacher to oversee the Institute. Also, such a school of likewise was established at Enugu State, all to promote the China and Nigerian diplomatic relationships using the Confucius Institute as study centres.

In appreciation, , the director of Confucius Institute, Prof. Ji Nengwen said he is optimistic that the symbiotic relationship between the Chinese Government and Nnamdi Azikiwe University will continue to grow from strength to strength and contribute to growth and development of diplomatic ties of both countries, especially in the areas of commerce, culture, language, technology and diplomacy.