Spirit of opportunity and friendship defines cooperation across various sectors as an encouraging tale of our times unfolds
Derrick Sibeso Wina from Zambia completed his master's degree in the Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development (ISSCAD) at Peking University in June. Addressing the commencement ceremony, he relayed a tale of good fortune stemming from the most taxing of challenges.
The story went like this.
A king wants to find a worthy man to marry his only daughter and be the future king. So he placed hungry crocodiles in a pool and asked all the young men to gather on one end and placed his daughter on the other end. Whoever swam across the pool would marry his daughter.
The young men gathered on one side as directed, but each of them wondered how anybody could possibly bypass the crocodiles. As one young man stood at the edge of the pool, he was pushed in. He had only one option, to swim as fast as he could to the other side. Everybody was congratulating him for being so brave. However, all he wanted to know was who pushed him? Then an old man by his side said: "Whoever pushed you is your best friend right now because that push is what you needed to get the ultimate prize that will change your life forever."
Wina, who works for the Ministry of Labor and Social Security in Zambia, said this story is appropriate both for him and his fellow students from Africa.
"The beautiful princess symbolizes that which has the capacity to change your life (like education), the pool full of crocodiles represents the obstacles that looked insurmountable to overcome (like financial resources)," Wina said.
"For us from the ISSCAD, the friend who gave us the gentle push that has enabled us to reach this far is the people of this great nation of China and their love for fellow human beings, who in their time of success have never forgotten to lend a helping hand to other developing countries through the great leadership of President Xi Jinping."
In September 2015, Xi announced that China would set up the ISSCAD during the High-Level Roundtable on South-South Cooperation to share the experience of China and other developing countries and advance and realize the goal of sustainable development by 2030.
China trained 30,000 officials and professionals for Africa in the past three years and provided scholarships to 20,000 African students through such platforms as ISSCAD.
Like Wina, Brenda Fiona Kazule, 31, also from Zambia, is a beneficiary of the ISSCAD program. She works as a Senior Traditional Affairs Officer for Muchinga province in the Department of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs after finishing her ISSCAD master's degree in June.
The one-year degree "enriched my understanding of the fundamental theories of national development policies, economics, politics, and leadership theories, using China's experience as a case study," Kazule said.
The modules of the courses encapsulate the fundamental concerns of human development, such as economic growth, poverty alleviation, education and innovation, climate change and environmental protection, which are relevant to Africa in both theory and practice, she added.
"The classroom courses have shaped my views on China's initial economic development which resulted from gradualism and experimentation of its economic reforms and opening-up policies which kicked off in 1978," Kazule said.
"The courses also helped lay a foundation for me and other ISSCAD students to critically assess China's economic reforms or models and the notion of economic development in the South-South cooperation," she added.
What impressed Kazule most is China's achievements and targeted efforts in poverty reduction.
"China has been dedicated to poverty reduction and has made considerable progress, having contributed substantially to global poverty reduction efforts," she said.
In the past decades, China has lifted more than 700 million people out of poverty, accounting for an estimated 70 percent reduction of worldwide poverty. China was the first developing country to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals ahead of its target.
Through classroom courses, or in-house research or even more importantly, field trips, Kazule learned how China implemented poverty alleviation.
She still remembers a two-day field trip with her fellow students in November last year to Pingyu county in Henan province, where she got first-hand experience of rural development and poverty reduction.
The success of China in poverty reduction is that the country has incorporated poverty reduction into its own development blueprint and carried out large-scale initiatives that target specific groups of people, Kazule said.
Specifically, dedicated funding, targeted measures and innovative solutions are three approaches that lead to the achievements of China in poverty relief efforts, she added.
Kazule said China's strategy on poverty reduction is not confined to China only but aims to benefit people over the world through the South-South cooperation initiative.
"China is a very good example for African countries because most of its characteristics 40 years ago were equivalent to most African countries, including GDP and infrastructure," she said.
Centering on South-South cooperation, China continues to promote the exchange and sharing of China's experience in development-oriented poverty alleviation in an effort to join other countries in implementing the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.
At the Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in Beijing earlier this month, China announced "eight major initiatives" to strengthen partnership with Africa. Capacity building is one of the initiatives.
China will share more of its development practices with Africa and support cooperation with the continent on economic and social development planning and support the opening of a China-Africa innovation cooperation center to promote youth innovation and entrepreneurship.
A tailor-made program will be carried out to train 1,000 high-caliber Africans. China will provide Africa with 50,000 government scholarships and 50,000 training opportunities for seminars and workshops, and will invite 2,000 young Africans to visit China for exchanges.
Kazule said she was impressed by China's proposal of building a community of shared future for mankind where people are freed from poverty and can achieve common development.
Both Wina and Kazule consider ISSCAD as a bridge between the developing countries and the Chinese experience for knowledge sharing in terms of national development, which developing countries like Zambia really need.
"Being a government official, the knowledge acquired from ISSCAD will help me in decision making as we strive to move our country forward in national development," Kazule said.
For Wina, there are some treasures that his professor of leadership Yang Zhuang left him.
"Yang told us that attitude is everything, change your attitude and you change your life," Wina said.
"Our attitude should be an attitude of hope, humility, and a sense of purpose and that with persistence we can overcome every kind of situation. China did it, we can do it also," he said.