Stu­dents head­ing to China on schol­ar­ships go with an open mind

Pretoria News Weekend - - NEWS - JAMES MAHLOKWANE

james.mahlokwane@inl.co.za A GROUP of 32 stu­dents are headed to the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic of China to pur­sue their stud­ies on schol­ar­ships pro­vided by that coun­try.

They were given a send-off by the Chi­nese Em­bassy and the De­part­ment of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing this week and ad­vised to make the most of the op­por­tu­nity granted them.

They leave as part of an ini­tia­tive which started in 2003.

This year’s crop of stu­dents will be study­ing to­wards BA, Masters, and PhD de­grees.

Some said they would be go­ing back af­ter an ini­tial pe­riod of study, hav­ing just re­turned to South Africa af­ter grad­u­at­ing for their first qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

At the oc­ca­sion, Chi­nese Am­bas­sador to South African Lin Song­tian ex­pressed his love for the pro­gramme.

He said it marked the 20th an­niver­sary of the China-South Africa re­la­tions.

“Thanks to the joint ef­forts of both sides, China-South Africa re­la­tions have achieved a leapfrog devel­op­ment to com­pre­hen­sive strate­gic part­ner­ship, bring­ing tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits to our peo­ples.

“China has, for nine con­sec­u­tive years, re­mained South Africa’s largest trad­ing part­ner, and has be­come South Africa’s most im­por­tant source of for­eign in­vest­ment and for­eign tourists.

“For South African stu­dents present here, in my view, you are go­ing to China at the right time. I am sure that to­mor­row, you will all be­come builders and con­trib­u­tors to our re­la­tions.”

Con­nor Fen­ton and Asithandile Nkatha had just re­turned home but said they were ea­gerly wait­ing to re­turn to the Asian coun­try.

Fen­ton com­pleted a one-year lan­guage pro­gramme and would be en­rolling for a BA de­gree in Chi­nese lan­guage and lit­er­acy at the Shanghai Nor­mal Univer­sity.

Nkatha com­pleted an MBA at Pek­ing Univer­sity and was set to study for a de­gree in Man­darin at the Bei­jing Lan­guage and Cul­ture Univer­sity.

An elated Le­bo­gang Neo is go­ing to China for the first time. “I am go­ing to study for a Masters de­gree in eco­nom­ics and be­lieve I will learn a lot about global eco­nom­ics and the ways of life of the Chi­nese peo­ple.

“I do not want to go there with pre­con­ceived ideas, be­cause I want to learn new things from Chi­nese youth and el­derly com­mu­nity.”

De­part­ment of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing’s chief direc­tor Ghaleeb Jep­pie con­grat­u­lated the stu­dents and em­pha­sised the im­por­tance of the ex­change pro­gramme be­tween China and South Africa.

He said the grad­u­ates would learn so much and come back equipped with skills and knowl­edge to in­flu­ence pos­i­tive change as Nel­son Man­dela wanted schol­ars to do.

PIC­TURES: JAC­QUES NAUDE/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic of China Am­bas­sador to South Africa, Lin Song­tian, dur­ing a farewell cer­e­mony for the 32 South African stu­dents.

Con­nor Fen­ton, Asithandile Nkatha and Le­bo­gang Neo are among the 32 South African stu­dents head­ing to the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic of China.

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