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More African Students Coming to Chinese Universities

More African students are coming or planning to come to China for higher education because of the country's fast-growing economy and warmer ties with Africa.

"China is becoming one of the strongest economies in the world. It will be important to know the country and its language, so I am planning to come as soon as possible," said Maurice Okande Alcula, a journalist from Kenya's National Development Radio, who is among a 100-member delegation to China.

Most people in the delegation, which comprises youths from 10 countries in Africa, expressed interest in studying in China after visiting universities in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

"The curriculums in the universities are very good, and they have many associations and clubs for students to develop their interest. I am planning to apply to a Chinese university after my graduation," said Djohor Fateh, a student from the University of Boumerdes of Algeria.

Figures from China's Ministry of Education showed that 3,737 African students came to study in Chinese universities last year, compared with 2,757 in 2005, marking a sharp rise of 40 percent.

Most people are here to study the Chinese language, and some are studying medicine, economics, management, and so on.

"A lot of Chinese companies are doing business in Africa now. Being able to speak the language will give me better chance of employment in big Chinese firms," said Shewit Falconi who is currently studying at Addis Abab University in Ethiopia.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao promised during last November's Forum on China-Africa Cooperation to boost the number of scholarships for Africa from 2,000 to 4,000 annually. Alcula said he was happy with the Chinese government's decision and started looking for information about the government scholarship.

Since the 1950s, China has provided more than 17,000 scholarships for students from 50 African countries, according to the Ministry of Education.

However, African students are still minorities of foreign students in China, who accounted for only 2.3 percent of the total in 2006. The Ministry of Education said the percentage will rise distinctly as the number of scholarships increases.

(Xinhua News Agency December 17, 2007)

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