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

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid