Makerere University is set to launch the first Confucius Institute for teaching Chinese language and culture in Uganda. The institute will be based in the School of Languages, Literature and Communication, College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
The launch of the Confucius Institute was formalised following a high level visit to China led by the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Professor John Ddumba Ssentamu, from 2-9 March 2014. Other members on the team were the Principal of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor Edward Kirumira; the Dean of the School of Languages, Literature and Communication, Associate Professor Aaron Mushengyezi; the former Principal of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor Oswald Ndoleriire; the Chair of the Department of Foreign and Oriental Languages, Dr. Edith Natukunda-Togboa; and the Chairperson of the Makerere University Academic Staff Association, Dr. Muhammed Kiggundu Musoke.
The delegation held meetings with officials at the Confucius Institute Headquarters in Hanban, Beijing, and at Xiangtan University in Hunan Province. Two agreements for the operationalisation of the Confucius Institute at Makerere University were also signed. The first Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Beijing by Professor Ddumba Ssentamu and the Director-General of the Confucius Institute Headquarters, who was represented her Deputy, Dr. Jing Wei. The second implementation agreement was signed by our Vice Chancellor and Professor Yunqing Huang, the President of Xiangtan University, the university in China which will be implementing the Confucius Institute with Makerere University.
Thereafter, the team held detailed discussions on the operationalisation of the Confucius Institute at Makerere. The discussions were led by Professor Kirumira, and the Xiangtan side was led by Professor Zeng Xinmin, the Director of the International Exchange Centre. It was agreed that the launch for the Institute be organised in May at Makerere University; the exact date will be confirmed by the Chinese delegation. The Institute will start offering services to the university and the general public thereafter.
The Confucius Institute will offer credit courses in Chinese to Makerere University students, and short courses to our staff and the general public who are interested in learning Chinese for all purposes. It will also be a centre for promoting cultural and business ties between the people of Uganda and China, and it will thus have a component of a vibrant cultural centre. The Institute will open many opportunities for staff, students and the general public who wish to pursue further studies, research and business opportunities in China.
Beside official business, the Makerere team was well received by the Chinese team and they were greatly inspired by the impressive strides China has made in its development. The team was able to visit the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City (an ancient palace for former Chinese emperors), Chairman Mao Zedong’s village of Shaoshan in Hunan Province, and the Beijing Olympics Park.