Since 2007, 1,019 workers from 48 African countries have been trained at Ningbo Polytechnic’s campus in Zhejiang province.
Among just a few vocational training centers for foreigners in China, Ningbo Polytechnic offers programs on port and shipping management, education and automobile maintenance.
William Kamara and Emmanuel Mwumvaneza are education officials from Kisoro in western Uganda. They recently participated in a 21-day session for vocational educators from developing countries.
Mwumvaneza said that they don’t have many skilled workers in their country, and it’s mostly the Chinese who help them build roads and buildings. “In Ningbo, we can see how those who help us build infrastructure work and see why they can do that.”
Kamara expressed hope that in the future, Uganda will have its own vocational education system so they can have more skilled workers of their own.
The bond between Ningbo Polytechnic and Africa can be traced to 2016, when the college joined Benin’s CERCO Group to launch the first Sino-Africa (Benin) Vocational Education and Training Center in Uganda.
The center offers courses on electronic technology applications, motorbikes, minigenerators and elevator maintenance, in accordance with local industrial development and people’s livelihoods.
When Alain Capo-Chichi, president of CERCO Group, saw the strength of China’s vocational education, he had a serious talk with his brother, who decided to travel to China to learn for himself.
“My Chinese name is Zhang Fei. I was sent by my brother,” said the 22-year-old Christ Capo-Chichi, who gave himself the Chinese name. He has been living in Ningbo for over a year and is already fluent in Chinese.
“During my time in Ningbo, I started to feel that the internet of things represents the future of manufacturing. I want to take on that challenge, so I took courses related to the field,” he said.
Mao Dalong, Party chief of Ningbo Polytechnic, said it is equally important for African trainees to come to China as it is for Chinese teachers to go to Africa.
In July 2015, two Ningbo Polytechnic teachers went to CERCO Group for a two-week session. Last November, two more teachers volunteered to go to Kenya to coach local schoolteachers on how to use and maintain Chinese experimental training equipment.
“We still have a lot to do to facilitate cooperation between schools and companies and the integration between industry and education,” Mao said.
A giant world map hangs in a classroom of Ningbo Polytechnic, where all overseas students can place a sticker of their national flag. Forty-eight African countries have been covered with flags.