UNESCO, China celebrate 25 years of fellowships

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China and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization held a ceremony at UNESCO's Paris headquarters to mark the 25th anniversary of the Great Wall Fellowships program last month. UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said this fellowship "is exemplary of multilateralism in action, constituting an important contribution to the reinforcement of human resources capacities in developing nations".

According to Azoulay, it is about "a deep engagement which stands witness to the importance that China gives, at the highest levels of state, to international cooperation in terms of science and education. It is through education that the capacities of these countries are truly reinforced, in a sustainable and inclusive manner".

Chinese Minister of Education Chen Baosheng said in his speech: "After 25 years of success and major achievements, we can only rejoice in this excellent record: 703 students from 100 countries have benefited from the Great Wall Fellowships."

The program not only allows students to enrich their knowledge, to expand their vision and to consolidate their skills, it also permits the deepening of mutual understanding among the students and with their Chinese professors, creating solid bonds of friendship, Chen said.

Sakaria Siranda, director of education for the National Institute for Education Development, within the Namibian Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, also spoke at the ceremony as a fellowship recipient from the 2016-17 session at the East China Normal University in Shanghai.

"I can now say with pride that my studies in China have helped my career prospects, because today, I am better able to understand the diverse issues surrounding the sustainable development of education, and I can make a better contribution within the framework of my mission," Siranda said.

A brochure, Fellowships Change Lives, was also published to commemorate the creation of the scholarship program, featuring representatives of fellowship recipients from different countries sharing their experiences of China.

Chinese Vice-Minister of Education Tian Xuejun, who is also director of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, said China would continue its cooperation with UNESCO and support UNESCO's operational strategy of Priority Africa.

China will also deepen the South-South cooperation within the UNESCO framework, and bring new contributions to development and shared prosperity for developing nations, Tian added.

Launched in 1994, the Great Wall Fellowships, is a Chinese program in which China offers scholarships to African countries and other developing nations through UNESCO.

Since 2014, the number of fellowship recipients in the program was extended from 25 to 75 per year.

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