Increasing number of Chinese students heading to Africa to gain higher education

2017-09-04 09:24Global Times Editor: Wang Zihao ECNS App Download

Liu Xin is one of the over 60 Chinese students at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Two and a half years ago, when she started her master's degree program, there were only 20 Chinese students attending the university.

She went to Africa in 2010 to become a volunteer teacher at the local Confucius Institute. After she had been working there for three years, she became really interested in Africa and their education system and decided to stay and further her education.

Many Chinese students have their eyes set for American and European universities for overseas study because of advanced social development, while some Chinese students go against the trend and receive their education in African countries.

"According to my observation, the number of Chinese students who go to African countries for higher education is growing in recent years," said Li Lianxing, secretary general of the China-Africa Report Project at Tsinghua University.

"The increase is not big, but the number is increasing, which means more Chinese students recognize Africa now," Liu said.

A growing base

In China we can see more African students on university campuses, which is a signal of a deeper China-Africa relationship, and the same trend is happening in Africa as well.

Li said that most Chinese students choose to study in universities in South Sudan, Egypt, Kenya, Ghana, Ethiopia and South Africa.

According to him, there are three types of Chinese students in Africa. One type is language students who major in local African languages such as Swahili and Hauser in China and go to African countries to study the language.

Another type is non-language students who major in law, economy, culture, education or agriculture and go to African universities for six months to a year to learn more about the culture or for research, said Li. "The above two types of students are all funded by the Chinese government."

A third type has been growing in recent years. More Chinese choose to develop their career and build a life in African countries, and some of their children tend to receive higher education in African countries, he said.

Liu said that some Chinese who work in Africa also further their study in their free time. "Many of my Chinese classmates choose to join the MBA program, since they work in a Chinese state-owned enterprise, and an MBA degree could help advance their career."

In addition, as China and Africa's relations and cooperation are heating up and more Chinese companies and investors come to Africa under The Belt and Road Initiative, more talents that understand Africa are needed, said Li.

"Besides, the new generations have more internationalized, curious mindsets, and are more willing to see and experience Africa themselves without any stereotypes, rather than just reading about it in a textbook."

Not an easy choice

When Liu announced her plan of going to Africa, her friends were shocked.

"They just assumed that all African countries are poor, really hot and in chaos."

However, when Liu got to Nairobi, she was delighted by the natural environment, the sight of green everywhere, the temperature and how comfortable it was.

For her, life in Africa is good, but receiving an education is not easy there due to language and cultural barriers.

The education institutions in Africa do not have a system for overseas students yet. They do not offer English or local language classes. Overseas students can only join the local students' classes and professors do not teach differently for overseas students.

"I spent the first year in school copying other students' notes because I could not understand what the professor was saying," Liu laughed.

Although the construction and other facilities in Liu's university are quite outdated, fortunately, her classmates and teachers are very helpful, and there are some academic exchanges with other universities.

Besides language barriers and outdated facilities, high living costs also pose a challenge.

"I believe the living costs here are even higher than Beijing; one bowl of Lanzhou noodles costs 40 yuan ($6)," Liu said. "For a one-room apartment without any furniture, the rent is roughly 3,350 yuan a month."

Lü Delun, a radio broadcaster at CNR, went to the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Africa for a year several years ago. He was funded by the Chinese government, and the government gave him $100 per month as an allowance.

He recalled that he received half a year's allowance altogether and spend it in one month. "I didn't live a life of luxury or eat expensive food; it was just expensive to live there," he said.

Another challenge is that it's difficult for Chinese students to find a job and stay in Africa in some cases.

"The local companies in Africa prefer to hire locals, so it's difficult for foreigners to settle in. Even the Chinese companies in Africa are required to employ locals," Liu said.

As the conditions in various parts of Africa are different, some Chinese students are lucky to be able to live a safe life there like Liu and Lü. Meanwhile, others face life and death situations due to the spread of epidemics and chaotic political situations.


Related news


Most popular in 24h

MoreTop news


Travel News
Travel Types
Bar & Club
CNS Photo
Learning Chinese
Learn About China
Social Chinese
Business Chinese
Buzz Words
Special Coverage
Back to top Links | About Us | Jobs | Contact Us | Privacy Policy
Copyright ©1999-2018 All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.