Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe has appealed to the Chinese Government to consider establishing the Headquarters of the Confucius Institute in Africa at Makerere University. “Uganda is at the centre of Africa and its ethnic grouping represents almost all parts of the Continent. It is therefore better placed to coordinate the activities of the institute,” he said. Prof. Nawangwe was speaking at the celebrations to mark the third anniversary of the Confucius Institute held on 25th November, 2017 in the University Main Hall.
He thanked the Chinese Government for the support rendered towards the development of the Confucius Institute since its establishment in 2014. Since its inauguration on 19th December, 2014, the Chinese Government has continuously offered support in terms of teaching staff and materials. The Chinese Government has also offered scholarships to staff and students to undertake further studies in China. “At the moment, we have 70 students undertaking Chinese at Bachelor’s level and over 500 people have enrolled for short courses. We appreciate the support. As Vice Chancellor and Chairman Advisory Board of Directors of the Confucius Institute, I pledge my continued support towards the growth of the Institute,” he said. Prof. Nawangwe implored members of the general public to embrace the opportunity to learn Chinese pointing to its significance in strengthening the economic and cultural ties between Uganda and China, the fastest growing and 2nd largest economy in the world. “Considering China’s development and Uganda’s aspiration to become a middle income country by 2020, there is need to explore what they did to reach where they are in the global economy,” he explained. Prof. Nawangwe congratulated the Directors, staff, students and partners as well as the Advisory Board of Directors upon the successes registered in the last three years.
In their remarks, the Directors of the Confucius Institute, Prof. Oswald Ndoleriire and Prof. Hong Yong highlighted some of the key achievements registered in the last one year. Since last year, the Confucius Institute has intensified the teaching of Chinese at Makerere University in response to the needs of the students. According to the Directors, the Institute has introduced holiday classes. In partnership with the National Curriculum Development Centre, the Institute has rolled out the teaching of Chinese in secondary schools. It has also reached out to Kampala Capital City Authority to extend the teaching of Chinese in schools under its management. The Institute has extended its cultural activities to places outside Kampala with an intention of helping Ugandans outside the city to access and experience the different aspects of the Chinese language and culture. Other achievements include the establishment of an international Chinese language examination centre to serve the many Ugandans who may need to have their levels assessed as they prepare to go for work or further studies in China. The Institute also continuously connects the Chinese language students to Chinese companies, individuals and government entities that require Chinese language related services.
The Directors expressed gratitude to the Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban) and Xiangtan University for the continued support towards the teaching of Chinese language. “We extend our appreciation to the Confucius Institute Headquarters and Xiangtan University for continuously sending us lecturers and paying their salaries.” They also appreciated the Chinese Embassy in Uganda, the Ministry of Education and Sports and the National Curriculum Development Centre for the cordial relations and support towards the activities of the Institute.
In his message delivered by H.E Chu Maoming, the Chinese Ambassador in Uganda, H.E Zheng Zhuqiang congratulated the staff and students of the Confucius Institute upon the achievements registered over the last three years. “The teaching scale has been expanded steadily and the number of students has grown from 30 to more than 4000. The teaching quality has also improved continuously. Many textbooks specifically designed for Ugandan students have been developed. Great efforts have been made to enhance the training of Ugandan teachers who can teach Mandarin. The teaching function has been enriched significantly. Various courses including undergraduate Mandarin major and full-day secondary school Mandarin classes have been launched. These are great achievements and we have every reason to celebrate,” he said.
The Ambassador noted that the Confucius Institute at Makerere University had built a bridge to connect the people of China and Uganda through language learning and cultural exchange. "It has become a window through which the Ugandan people come to know more about China. It has boosted bilateral exchange. With this we will see greater contributions made to boost China-Uganda educational cooperation, people-to-people exchange and development of bilateral friendly relationship," he said.
He advised Ugandan students to learn the Chinese language and make use of it in Uganda’s future development.
H.E Chu Maoming is the Deputy Chinese Ambassador in Uganda.
The Chief Guest, Kampala Capital City Authority Executive Director, Ms. Jennifer Musisi, represented by the Director of Education and Social Services at KCCA, Ms Juliet Namuddu, pledged continued support to the activities of the Confucius Institute and Makerere University in general. “KCCA enjoys excellent relations with Makerere and considers it as one of its greatest partners in the development of Kampala. We promise to work with the leadership of Makerere University to extend the teaching of Chinese in Schools in and around Kampala. This will contribute to a pool of the much needed human resource and will subsequently reduce cost of doing business in Uganda. She appreciated the Chinese Government for its support towards various development projects in Kampala and Uganda in general.
The celebrations to mark the third anniversary of the Confucius Institute featured various Chinese Cultural performances and local traditional dances by Uganda Heritage Roots.