China-Africa Educational Cooperation
Chinese investment in the African education sector is aimed at both ensuring that there is a mutual benefit and helping China maintain its dominance in the African market. For this reason, the investment is mad e in a manner that helps China improve its grip on Africa regarding the economic front. Moreover, through investing in the education sector in areas that the Western nations have stopped helping, the country has built and maintained its image as that of an honorable partner rather than an exploiter. This approach might allow China to become more involved in different sectors in Africa.
China-Africa cooperation is an example of globalization at play where countries are significantly involved in inter-border matters. Globalization has also seen developed countries become more engaged in helping the less developed states in the line of empowering them to become better partners on the international arena. Moreover, with the close-border relations being very common, countries are now more active in the transnational issues as a means of safeguarding themselves from external challenges. It is an approach that China has exploited when investing in the African education sector, where the aim is to ensure that the interaction is based on a platform that upholds the spirit of mutual benefit (King, 2014, 19). It is a form of cooperation that strives to ascertain that both the Chinese and the African workforces gain qualification and skills through their exposure to insights that could not have been available to them if there were no cooperation. It is an excellent illustration of how collaboration between different countries provides crucial knowledge that helps a nation get a new or deeper understanding of a particular matter that helps in making or attaining the needed realignments. Although the China-Africa education partnership is formally established as a win-win platform for both China and the African countries, this cooperation is a well-choreographed strategy of the Chinese government to ensure it remains the dominant foreign partner in the African continent.
China needs to be certain that the African countries have the capacity of the skilled workforce to guarantee that the China-Africa trade continues to flourish. One of the successful areas of collaboration between China and Africa is the field of higher education, where under the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) substantial exchange in financing and research is performed. It is China’s goal to ensure that any engagement with the African countries is based on the spirit of mutual benefit (King, 2014, 15). Moreover, the country must ascertain that the close collaboration is based on such kind of educational interaction that facilitates learning from each other’s experience. The involvement in research is aimed at improving the capacity of the African countries in exploiting their resources — it is the action that will create favorable conditions for the African countries to expand their economy and set foot on the road of sustainable development. As a result, China supplies them with the needed capital-intensive resources and technology while the African countries enjoy a wider access to the Chinese market.
The international trade is heavily dependent on the nature and the level of scientific advancement and technology between the partners. As for the China-Africa education cooperation, one of the greatest commitments made by China is based on the platform of science and technology. The realization of this partnership aspect is achieved through the enactment of the China-Africa Science and Technology Partnership Program. Besides, China committed to conducting 100 joint studies and facilitating close collaboration in demonstration projects (King, 2014, 22). Moreover, this was followed by FOCAC V that outlined an intentional action of establishing specialized Chinese study centers across African institutions of high learning. Through this approach, China not only achieves its goal of empowering its trade with Africa but also influences the nature of technology these countries will adopt — a phenomenon that has caused an increase in the demand for Chinese-based technology, particularly in the infrastructural development.
Healthy people are better trading partners, and if the issue of medical protection receives proper attention, the reduced risk of trans-border infections reduces significantly. In this context, another major platform in the constructive China-Africa education cooperation is the medical field. From 2006 to 2009, China built 30 hospitals and 30 malaria treatment centers under the FOCAC IV, which was created with the intention to train close to 3,000 nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals. Furthermore, the program entailed a donation of $1.5 million (King, 2014, 23). In the line of showing more commitment to this partnership, China has also continued to send teachers to the African countries with the aim of empowering professionals in Africa through improved training. Leading Chinese experts joined their efforts for educating and assisting the less developed countries in the medical matters.
There is an abundance of lethal diseases in Africa, malaria being one of the most dangerous. The investment made by China in this context works to cement its place as a worthy partner to many African countries.
Conditions for Cooperation
Chinese investment in the African education is subject to certain preliminary demands. The African countries must first agree to fully collaborate economically and politically before coming to the social cooperation where the education docket falls. It is the intention of China to use FOCAC to ensure that the collaboration in the education sector is a long-term engagement (King, 45). It is the reason China insists on a partnership based on a mutual platform with agreement on the basic principles that satisfy both sides of the cooperation. Moreover, by ensuring that the engagement in education is subject to agreement on the economic front, China maintains its grip on the African economy — an approach that has seen China surpass the USA as the biggest economic partner with Africa.
China’s Ulterior Motive
Investment in the education sector is choreographed to help in addressing the challenges that have been ignored by the traditional western partners. For example, as education is closely related to infrastructure and many of the African countries have budget constraints, the Chinese government is also heavily involved in the improvement of educational infrastructure. It appeared necessary because African countries had depended on the former Western aid in the matters of infrastructure, but over the years it stopped. In response, under the third FOCAC, the Chinese government has committed to help in the construction of 100 schools, particularly in the rural areas where the education infrastructure is very poor (Obamba, 2013) thus aiding in improving the environment where learning takes place.
China’s engagement in the education sector is done in a manner that presents the country as a partner and not an exploiter. With the intention centered on ensuring that a mutual benefit is received by China and Africa, the Chinese government has increased its scholarship allocation to African countries from US$2,000 in the year 2003 to approximately US$6,000 in the year 2012 (Obamba, 2013). Moreover, the Chinese government strives to change the norm established by the Western donors that the external help is centered on the financial donation and not accompanied by capacity building. Therefore, the country has taken another approach to improving the economic status of Africa in a manner that encourages the African natives to be actively involved in solving the challenges rather than simply provides capital funding (Ado and Zhan, 2016, 47). Moreover, China realized how crucial the education sector and the young African minds are in enhancing the Africans’ capacity regarding both the economic and technological platforms (Zhang, Herman, and Winston, 2016, 6). It is why China has made an intentional change in its collaboration with Africa and has become more involved in research and technology — two of the platforms that will better the quality of the human resources in the African countries. Moreover, during a visit to South Africa, the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pledged $60 billion donations to the African countries. However, he was keen to mention that China had the skilled personnel that could help Africa realize its potential (Onishi, 2015). This fact is a clear indication of the Chinese intention of empowering the Africans. It is clear that Chinese-African education cooperation is expected to become stronger with time. It will continue to provide a platform necessary for China to portray itself as a partner that in interested in ensuring that the African countries gain as much as the China does through their joint coordination.
China is heavily involved in the education sector of the African countries as a means of improving the capacity of the workforce on the continent and creating benefits that can be utilized by both sides of the collaboration. Moreover, the Chinese government sees the education sector as a viable platform that can facilitate solving issues in a sustainable manner, with people empowered to make the needed life realignments to improve the living and working conditions in their countries. Moreover, China makes intentional investments in both the skills and the infrastructure in the education sector as it is evident that qualification must be complemented with the appropriate infrastructure to enhance the quality delivered in the sphere. Thus China has built both rural schools and medical training facilities in the line of ensuring that a suitable environment for the educational engagement is provided to many African countries. Moreover, in its program of assistance, the state has included scientific and medical support to ensure healthy and efficient partner relations. With its substantial involvement in the African education sector, China expects to achieve a win-win situation where both the Africans and Chinese learn and benefit from the different experiences. Through the investments made by China in the African education system, as well as the financial and research support, African young minds now have the opportunity to find solutions to their perennial problems. By providing benefits for the African educational system, the Chinese government continues to cement its dominance in Africa and improve its image as an international partner on the global stage.