News / Africa

African Students Face Challenges in China

FILE - An African student practices moves as other Shaolin martial arts students look on during the inauguration ceremony of a martial arts training program for African students, at the Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, Henan province, Sept. 2013.
FILE - An African student practices moves as other Shaolin martial arts students look on during the inauguration ceremony of a martial arts training program for African students, at the Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, Henan province, Sept. 2013.
VOA News

Attracted by the scholarships and the dream of an overseas education, students from Africa have turned to China as their lab to gain an edge in knowledge and experience. Their numbers are fast increasing into the tens of thousands annually. Officially, China awards scholarships for the skills development Africa most needs.  But it's also a way to strengthen its soft power on the continent. Most of the students enjoy the experience, but some Africans also complain about the quality of education.
 
On a chilly April day in Shanghai, Zambian student Violet Bwalya sat down in a cafe near Tongji University, one of the top schools in the country. It was lunchtime and the cafeteria on campus offered a variety of Chinese dishes. But the college freshman said she cooks her homestyle food herself most of the time.
 
She enrolled in Tongji University under a Chinese government scholarship in September 2013. She didn't know she would see so many people just like her.
 
"Yes, I didn't expect so much Africans here. So when I came I was shocked, a lot," she said.
 
The wide-eyed, 19-year-old Zambian was also amazed by China's development visible everywhere on the street.
 
"Yeah, the infrastructure, they are so cool, there are roads. Everything is just so cool. I don't know. Our country rarely has tall buildings," she said.
 
Language barrier

Like so many other African students on Chinese government scholarships, Bwalya will spend her first year learning the language, and then go to another university to study her major: medicine. All classes will be taught in Mandarin.

African students who have been in China for a longer time say the language barrier can render the entire academic program just a process to receive a piece of paper.
 
"Generally, I think the biggest challenge for an international student who comes to China to study English, an English course, is availability of lecturers who can actually speak English," said an African master student in Wuhan, central China, who studies in English.
 
He wanted to remain anonymous because he didn't want to be heard criticizing Chinese education publicly. He said that his professors can't answer his questions because they don't speak English and he doesn't speak much Chinese either. His friend complained that it's too easy for Africans to get a pass.
 
"Where I come from, you are really pushed by getting good grades. You are not going to get a 90 by just showing up or just going to the exam. But here when you come, they just give you 90s. For them it's like you want the paper, so they give you the paper and you go home," says another Ugandan student.
 
A positive experience overall

Most African students, however, think positively of their experience in China.
 
Juma Salum from Zanzibar, Tanzania is pursuing a Ph.D in political science at Shanghai's International Studies University. Despite the challenging cold weather, he enjoys his studies very much. Like most African students in China, he wants to return after graduation to help his country.

"I feel I have a burden to return to my country," he said. "And the most things to do is to work hard to the government, to support my government, to support my society and to be a link between the Chinese people and the Tanzanian people and the African people."
 
And Salum is setting a trend that is growing exponentially.  
 
In 2012, China's Department of Foreign Assistance at the Ministry of Commerce said it hosted more than 27,000 students from Africa. By the end of 2013, there were over 35,000 African students in China.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: William lo from: Canada
July 23, 2014 11:21 PM
Chinese language is not something you can learn when you are getting old. Even for Chinese ppl ourselves, it takes fifteen years hard work to master this language. I never saw any foreigners can read and write Chinese like I do with English.
But still, good to know Africa is starting to learn Chinese! As China's influence is going wider, definitely more ppl need to learn this language.

by: Frankie Fook-lun Leung from: Los Angeles
July 23, 2014 9:51 PM
This situation is not just unique to China. African students in Soviet Union (previously) mentioned they faced the same problems.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs