By Foday Moriba Conteh
In a bid to encourage students that have exhibited outstanding academic performance and positive attitudes toward promoting China – Sierra Leone Friendship in the country, the Chinese Embassy through the Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, H.E Amb Hu Zhangliang under the 2021 Chinese Ambassador Scholarships and grants has on Thursday 22, July 2021, one week before the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Sierra Leone, awarded scholarships to 22 University Students to the value of Le 10,000,000 Million each and Grants to 125 Pupils in the tune of Le 2,000,000 Million all amounting to 147 deserving benefitting and 470 Million Leones expended.
The award ceremony took place at the Economic and Commercial Office of the Chinese Embassy at OAU Village on Hill Station in Freetown.
Delivering his statement during the occasion, the Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, H.E Amb Hu Zhangliang, on behalf of the Chinese Embassy, expressed appreciation to the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education for promoting the cooperation in education between the two countries. He also extended his heartfelt congratulations to all the students who benefited from the 2021 Chinese Ambassador Scholarship.
He said this year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-Sierra Leone diplomatic relations and that over the past 50 years the two countries have been proven by time and facts to be genuine friends and reliable partners, adding that their traditional friendship and friendly cooperation have been constantly strengthened and enriched with tangible results achieved in various fields, such as infrastructure building, agriculture, fishery, public health, education and human resource development.
He pointed that as early as 1973, China started dispatching medical and health experts to Sierra Leone and up to now, over 500 Chinese medical doctors and experts have been sent to work in Sierra Leone and treated over 800 thousand patients stating that in the late 1970s and 1980s, China helped Sierra Leone build land mark projects including the National Stadium, the Youyi Building, the RSLAF Headquarter Complex and the Mange Bridge etc and that the recent years have seen the bilateral cooperation further expanded and deepened under the framework of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), with fruitful outcomes such as the Office Building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Sierra Leone-China Friendship Hospital (Jui), National Fiber Backbone Network Project Phase 1 and 2, the two primary schools in Masingbi and Makeni communities, the Second Juba Bridge, the newly started Sierra Leone Foreign Service Academy, and the newly completed 3.2-kilometer Ring Road in Freetown etc.
“Over the years, China has been helping Sierra Leone in its educational development and human capacity building on a large scale. The Chinese Government has sponsored over 1000 Sierra Leonean students to study in China under its scholarship programs. Similarly, the Chinese Government has also invited more than 5,100 Sierra Leonean friends from all walks of life to China for short-term training courses or exchanges in the past 20 years,” he further disclosed.
He revealed that to support the local tertiary education in Sierra Leone, the Chinese Embassy set up the Chinese Ambassador Scholarship a few years ago maintaining that the scholarship is meant to incentivize outstanding academic performance and positive attitudes toward promoting China – Sierra Leone friendship, furthering that to date, a total of 115 students have benefited from this program, including the 22 students which were awarded the Scholarship on the 22nd July 2021 maintaining that these 22 students were recommended to the Embassy by the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education as well as various colleges and universities across this country.
He said in 2020 the Embassy awarded the Chinese Ambassador Grant to 90 needy students from various primary and secondary schools in Sierra Leone, and this year, the number of beneficiaries is 125 and that the recipients were recommended by the Fourah Bay College Junior Secondary School and various Sierra Leone – China friendship organizations.
Ambassador Hu encouraged recipients to continue working hard and wished them great achievements at school and in future career. He also reaffirmed China’s staunch support to the tertiary education and the Free Quality Education initiated by H.E. President Julius Maada Bio.
On his part, Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Dr. David Moinina Sengeh, said the relationship between Sierra Leone and China has long been established, adding how the friendship has proven great beyond expectations, noting that the relationship has expanded from medical, military, socio-economic and above all, education beyond borders.
He maintained that the awarding of the 22 university students from various tertiary institutions and the 125 needy pupils from different primary and secondary schools with the 2021 Chinese Ambassador Scholarship and Grant is a move in complementing Government’s free quality education initiative, adding that it is with great honour and pleasure to see dynamic young people achieve their learning aspirations, which is the Government’s priority and supported by the Chinese Government through their Embassy.
He encouraged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of this in order to achieve their desired goals and contribute immensely to the country, be innovative and be courageous stating that education is not an easy task therefore, and urged them to brace up to make the change that the country and the whole world require.
On behalf of the Government and the People of Sierra Leone, he expressed sincere thanks and gratitude to the Chinese Ambassador and the People of China for supporting the country’s human capital development.
Deputy Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Sarjoh Aziz Kamara, conveyed greetings from His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio to the President of the People’s Republic of China for the support of the Chinese Government to education in the country which he said has been long standing.
He noted that apparently there are 155 Sierra Leoneans students who have registered with the Sierra Leone Embassy in the People’s Republic of China pursuing different academic programs, adding that the Chinese Government has also awarded 48 Sierra Leoneans students who are currently in country and have not been able to travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic and so far the Government of Sierra Leone appreciate this support to education by the People’s Republic of China which complements President Maada Bio’s commitment to ensure qualitative education in the country as a key driver of sustainable development and achievement of human capital development in the country.
On behalf of the beneficiaries, Mohamed Mansaray, a Civil Engineering student at the Fourah Bay College expressed appreciation to the Chinese Embassy for awarding them these scholarships. He assured them that they will make judicious use of the opportunity in order to achieve their desired goals and contribute immensely to the country and help strengthen the friendship between the two countries.
(C) The Calabash Newspaper