There are 6,500 Ghanaian students receiving education in China. And as such, Ghana has the highest number of African students studying in China, according to the Chinese ambassador to Ghana, Wang Shiting.
“Ghana is a middle-sized country in terms of its population, but the number of Ghanaians studying in China is the highest in Africa,” said Wang at the ongoing three-day China-Africa Conference on Population and Development.
China is still one of the largest countries providing human resource training and capacity building support to Ghana, with 1,000 scholarships for both short-term and long-term training, said Wang.
China and Africa would continue to push forward their cooperation in population and development to ensure that all the peoples of China and Africa can share in the benefits, said Wang.
“I think you can take that knowledge and go back to wherever you are from to advance your personal goals and improve your country.” Derek Arthur, who is a Ghanaian studying in Beijing Foreign Studies University, told Xinhua.
Derrick Ampadu, a former Ghanaian student of Liaocheng University in Shandong, working as a Chinese-English translator at the conference lauded China’s educational system for the discipline, hard work and confidence it instilled in students.
“Although these translations are very technical, I always challenge myself to do them due to the Chinese culture that does not give room for laziness,” said Ampadu.
According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the US and UK host around 40,000 African students a year. China surpassed this number in 2014, making it the second most popular destination for African students studying abroad, after France which hosts just over 95,000 students.
In 2016, Zambia sent 3,248 students to China, compared to the 469 it sent to the United States in the same year. Then there is South Sudan: Africa’s newest country is only seven years old and already China has provided some 4,100 scholarships and short-term training opportunities. For the 2015/2016 academic year, China’s prestigious Tsinghua University revealed Eritrea, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe as among the top sources of African students. Moroccan and Cameroonian students were also part of the group, which is surprising as these students usually prefer France because they speak French.
The increase in African students in China is not by accident, but rather, by design. Billing itself as a fellow third-world nation lacking a colonial legacy in Africa, China is keen to secure the affections of Africa’s next generation of leaders, especially given the continent’s youth bulge. Moreover, bringing African students to China and familiarizing them with it is seen as a key tactic by Beijing in its efforts to counter negative attitudes towards China which have arisen in the wake of the country’s growing economic footprint in Africa.
China has instituted a wide ranging system of scholarships and other incentives to entice African students to study abroad. Many African international students in China are receiving full scholarships paid for by the Chinese government. Additionally, inward focus from the West like America First from the US and Brexit from the UK better China’s position in the global stage, including the educational stage for international students.
Header Image Credit: New China