• August 24, 2023

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Wang Qing at Farewell Reception for the Awardees of Chinese Scholarship Year 2023-2024

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Wang Qing at Farewell Reception for the Awardees of Chinese Scholarship Year 2023-2024
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( 24 August 2023, Bintumani Hotel, Freetown)

Honorable Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Dr. Haja Ramatulai Wurie,

Honorable Amb. Victoria Sulimani, Director General of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, 

Representatives from the friendly organizations,

Dear Chinese scholarship awardees,

Distinguished Guests and Friends,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning!

Welcome to the Farewell Reception for the Awardees of Chinese Scholarship Year 2023 to 2024. First of all, I would like to extend warm congratulations to all Chinese scholarship awardees. This year there are 155 Sierra Leonean applicants have been successfully admitted by Chinese universities and colleges with full scholarships, and 28 of them are Chinese Government Scholarship(CGS) recipients, 127 students have won the degree program scholarship of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. The total number ranks the second most in African continent. This shows us the high quality of Sierra Leone Students as well as the achievements of the “Free Quality Education” . Congratulations!

I also want to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education for your support to the Embassy, to the fruitful cooperation in the area of education and the people-to-people exchanges between China and Sierra Leone, and of course to today’s event.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

Both China and Sierra Leone attach great importance to education. There is an old saying in China that “It takes ten years to nurture a tree, but a hundred years to train a man”. It means that investment in education is a long-term business and a good education program takes a long time to develop but it will bring wide-reaching and profound benefits forever.

In the past decades, China consistently made education one of the foundational and strategic pillars for building a modern socialist country in all respects. We fully implemented the strategy for invigorating China through science and education and built the world’s largest education system. The government spending on education reached the official target of four percent of the GDP in 2012 for the first time and has remained above that figure since, and the spending in 2022 reached about US$ 900 billion. At the same time, per capita expenditure of Chinese households on education also increased substantially, which reflects the great importance Chinese parents attach to the education of their children. After years of hard work, education has achieved great development and played key role in enhancing national competitiveness, made an irreplaceable and important contribution to China’s modernization. Now more and more Chinese universities enter global rankings for the best universities in the world. In order to make education better support The Chinese Path to Modernization, we have launched China’s Education Modernization 2035 plan to set the direction for the development of the education sector from “capacity” to “quality”.

Since I have been in Sierra Leone in January, I am also deeply impressed by the conscientiousness and investment by Sierra Leone Government on education. H.E. President Julius Maada Bio made the Free Quality Education the flagship programme of the New Direction Agenda. My colleagues told me that during the last 5 years Sierra Leone spent 22% of government budget on education which paid school and exam fees, learning materials, school meals, buses etc, passed the basic and senior secondary education Act 2023, expanded the enrollment rate significantly-a 37% jump, increased the pass rate in public exams to over 77%. All of these benefit millions of students and also received remarkable international recognition. I know H.E. President Julius Maada Bio was invited to co-chair the UN Education session, I know Hon. Minister Moinina David Sengeh, the then Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education was given the award as the Best Minister in the world.

Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen,

Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between our two countries 52 years ago, China- Seirra Leone friendly cooperation has resulted in fruitful achievements in all fields. Education and human capacity building are the most important fields among these.

In the past two decades, the Chinese government has provided  scholarships to over 1200 Sierra Leonean students. The Chinese government has invited more than 5100 Sierra Leonean friends from all walks of life to China for short-term training courses or exchanges.  Although the physical study in China was once interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, but we are happy to see that there are still over 200 students continue their studies on campus in China in the last 3 years and now the exchanges are recovered quickly after the pandemic. In the first half of this year, over 350 Sierra Leoneans have already been invited to China for training programs and seminars this year.

Last month in his congratulatory message to H.E. President Julius Maada Bio on his reelection, H.E. President Xi Jinping said he stands ready to work with President Bio to support each other and work in solidarity and coordination to promote the continuous development of the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between China and Sierra Leone to better benefit their people. On the just concluded BRICS Summit in South Africa, President Xi said the global south countries should increase people-to-people exchanges and promote mutual learning between civilizations. He proposed to expand cooperation on education, enhance the role of the BRICS alliance for vocational education, explore and set up a cooperation mechanism on digital education, and foster a paradigm of all-round cooperation on education.

Several weeks ago, I had the honor to attend the state opening of the 6th Parliament and listen to the speech by President Bio. He presented the New Direction: Consolidating the Gains and Accelerating Transformation Agenda. This agenda encapsulates the spirit of progress, seizing the newfound opportunities we have forged while confronting emerging challenges and propelling Sierra Leone towards middle-income status by 2035. He also emphasized five key initiatives that will shape the course: Feed Salone, Human Capital Development, Youth Employment Scheme, Technology and Infrastructure Initiative, Revamping the Public Service Architecture. China are ready to make our contributions to achieve these Five Big5, including through closer and stronger educational cooperation.

With this in mind, we have every reason to believe that the new and brighter prospects for our educational cooperation are ushering in.

 

Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen,

We Chinese have another old saying “When the young rises, the country rises, when the young is strong, then the country is strong.” Young people are the future of a country, and also the future of our bilateral friendship. The scholarship recipients present today are heading for China and will start on a new journey. Once you step on the ground of China, you are not only students from Sierra Leone, but also goodwill ambassadors to carry on the China-Sierra Leone traditional friendship, and cultural ambassadors to promote bilateral cultural exchanges, image ambassadors to positively portray Sierra Leonea in China and as well as developmental ambassadors to contribute to Sierra Leone’s social and economic development with the knowledge and skill to be learned in China. Your responsibilities are much more heavier than before. I am confident that you are strong enough to meet the new challenges. I hope you will cherish this opportunity, study hard and live up to what your parents and your country expect of you. I wish you all great success.

Long live China- Sierra Leone friendship!

Thank you.

 

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