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Respect, Cooperation Urged at Sino-Africa Forum

Delegates at the Sino-Africa Education Minister Forum seminar on international cooperation and partnership in Beijing yesterday agreed joint work has been fruitful in the past years and promoted UNESCO's Education for All (EFA) goals.

Education ministers called on more cultural communication to further educational cooperation while talking about their own countries' concerns and achievements regarding EFA goals.

International cooperation should consider and respect the culture of the beneficiary country as a feasible, practical cooperation mode is based on an understanding of history and culture, said Henri Ossebi, the Republic of the Congo's minister of education and science.

Senegalese Minister of Education Moustapha Sourang said beneficiaries' cultures should be considered in training projects and that African countries should assimilate the experience of donor countries and tailor it to their own situations.

South Africa's education minister, Naledi Pandor, said African countries shouldn't only rely on foreign aid in education, and funds for education should be allocated in each country's budget. Cooperation should also lay out a long-term plan and strategy so that international cooperation can be more efficient, she said.

Vice Minister of Education Zhang Xinsheng said China is willing to conduct more cooperation with African countries, as they have similar difficulties and problems in education development and share common development tasks. He said Sino-African cooperation has and will continue to promote education for all in the world.

The Beijing Declaration was also adopted and signed at the closing ceremony of the forum, which said free primary education is a basic human right and that countries must expand secondary education after fulfilling primary education targets.

Minister of Education Zhou Ji and UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura spoke highly of the one-day forum and considered it a new example of South-South cooperation.

The number of African students studying Chinese surpassed 8,000 as of July 1, according to Zhou. He said about 120 schools and universities in 16 African countries now offer Chinese courses and China has sent around 200 language teachers to them.

Chinese language learning facilities in Cameroon, Egypt, Mauritius, Tunisia and Mauritania have also been set up by China, and Africa's first Confucius Institute, offering Chinese courses, is due to open at Kenya's Nairobi University on December 19. Another 15 elsewhere on the continent have been approved by China's National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language.

According to Wei Jianguo, vice minister of commerce, China had trained 7,500 personnel for African countries by the end of October.

At the forum were ministers of education from Benin, Egypt, the Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Mali, Guinea, Mauritius, Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Algeria, Mozambique, Tanzania, Djibouti, Mauritania, Senegal and Cameroon as well as officials from the Chinese ministries of education, foreign affairs, finance, and commerce and UNESCO.

The forum was co-sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Commerce.

(China.org.cn by staff reporter Guo Xiaohong, November 28, 2005)

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