To expand its global influence, China has invested heavily in developing nations around the world.
These strides have drawn unease and unfavourable media propaganda basically from fear that such moves by China can undermine the interests of the United States and some other western countries in Africa.
Irrespective of the propaganda, however, the U.S. based Foreign Policy Group has stated that Chinese aid and investment can be good or bad depending on what African nations choose to make of them.
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The rise of China has necessitated the need for more Chinese language speakers across the globe and especially in Africa where China is making serious inroads.
Within the last two decades, China has grown from a small player in Africa to the source of nearly $200 billion in trade and $75 billion in aid to the continent.
Estimates say that there are more than 250,000 Chinese language related jobs in Africa that are currently unfulfilled; a figure that is projected to double by year 2022.
This holds great potential for the achievement of a number of the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 8 (decent work and economic growth) and Goal 1 (No Poverty).
To help Africa meet up with this shortfall in human capital, China’s language teaching giant, Guoji Dui, announced an ambitious plan in late 2018 to extend its online Chinese language teaching service to Africa – a move that is strongly backed by its government.
Under this plan, 2,500 of Guoji Dui’s best students from Africa will be selected every year and awarded study grants and sponsorship for cultural trips to China to enable them hone their language skills and immerse themselves in the unique Chinese culture.
Out of this yearly quota, it is expected that Nigeria – being the most populated African nation and the top focus for the next stage of the Sino-Africa relations – may receive as much as 40 percent of the slots.
The academia is of particular interest here as there is need to train and supply the desperately needed teaching staff for tertiary institutions across Africa and Nigeria in particular.
Hence, a proportion of the travel quota is reserved for graduates of higher institutions – whether from engineering, science, arts or other fields of study – who will be willing to enrol in a 2-year scholarship program in China for the award of Masters in Teaching Chinese. But that must be after they have attained a particular level of study under Guoji Dui.