Monday, June 3, 2024

The Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi proudly hosted the opening ceremony of the 2024 Joint Conference for Confucius Institutes in Africa on Thursday, May 30, 2024. The significant event took place at the Chandaria Auditorium, bringing together directors, educators, and stakeholders from Kenya and Confucius Institutes across the continent.

Prominent guests attended the opening ceremony, including Ms Aurelia Rono, Principal Secretary for the State Department for Parliamentary Affairs who represented the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Hon. Ezekiel Machogu, and Dr Beatrice Inyangala, Principal Secretary for the State Department for Higher Education. Other distinguished attendees were H.E. Amb. Zhou Pingjian, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Kenya, Yang Wei, President of the Chinese International Education Foundation, and Prof. Zhong Yinghua, Chair of the International Society for Chinese Language Teaching. 

Also present were representatives from the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC), Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), National Defence University-Kenya (NDU-K), and the Chinese Language Teachers Association of Kenya.

In his welcoming remarks, University of Nairobi Vice Chancellor Prof Stephen Kiama emphasized the importance of collaboration in development. “Collaboration forms the bedrock of our operations, with one Confucius Classroom, five teaching centres, and 17 partner institutions participating in Chinese language education across Kenya. We work closely with various stakeholders in the education sector, including the Ministry of Education, public and private schools, the Chinese Embassy in Kenya, Chinese enterprises, and communities serving as a vital platform for China-Kenya exchanges and societal development,” he said.

Even though Chinese language instruction in Africa has advanced significantly, more work has to be done, according to Prof. Zhong Yinghua, Chair of the International Society for Chinese Language Teaching. 

According to him, the cornerstone of Chinese language teaching and learning must be laid by including Chinese language courses in basic education. "To address the shortage of high-level local teaching staff, we also need to strengthen Chinese language teacher training programs," Yinghua stated. 

Ms Aurelia Rono, the Principal Secretary, State Department for Parliamentary Affairs, commended the Confucius Institutes for nurturing international relations between China and Africa. “I commend the various Confucius Institutes for serving as instrumental platforms in nurturing international relations between China and Africa, particularly in facilitating people-to-people exchanges. By bridging language and cultural barriers, we lay the foundation for building confidence in investment flows and advancing cultural tourism, which has recently seen a surge in popularity.”

The conference aims to discuss the progress, challenges, and future directions of Chinese language and cultural education in Africa. It seeks to strengthen collaboration, share best practices, and explore innovative approaches to fostering cultural exchange and educational development.

The Confucius Institute is a public educational and cultural program funded by the Chinese International Education Foundation (CIEF) to promote Chinese language and culture internationally. There are a total of 61 Confucius Institutes in Africa, with the Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi (CIUON) being the first to be established on the continent in 2005. CIUON is the largest Confucius Institute in Africa and is dedicated to promoting Chinese language and culture through education and cultural exchange, serving as a bridge between China and Kenya, fostering mutual understanding and collaboration