A leading Chinese education official yesterday urged greater input from across Asia into an scholarship scheme which will help students study in other countries on the continent.
China's Ministry of Education and some universities and companies have offered university places to almost 50 students from other Asian nations thanks to the Asian Scholarship for Overseas Study.
"We hope that more countries, educational institutions and companies can contribute to the scholarship," said Cao Guoxing, director-general of the Department of International Co-operation and Exchange under the Ministry of Education.
Cao was speaking at the Bo'ao Consultative Meeting on Education Co-operation for Asia, which is part of the Education Forum for Asia that opened yesterday in Beijing.
The annual forum intends to be a platform to address issues facing the development of education in Asia and to highlight and support innovative approaches to educational development goals, education policy making and international educational co-operation.
It was proposed at an initiators meeting in December last year that the scholarship be set up to encourage Asian students and scholars to study overseas.
Cao said the annual scholarship is being prepared and will take effect next year.
"As the initiator, the Chinese side is the first to respond and is very active in offering overseas study opportunities or funds," he said.
Participants attending the forum showed interest in the scholarship.
"It will be useful (for educational interchanges among Asian countries)," said Pornnipha Limpaphayom, secretary-general of the Office of the Basic Education Commission under the Thai Ministry of Education.
Limpaphayom said her ministry will consult government agencies, universities and companies in Thailand on contributing to the scholarship.
Since the late 1970s, educational exchanges have strengthened between China and other countries, Cao said.
A total of 700,000 Chinese students have studied in more than 100 countries. In recent years, around 120,000 have annually traveled abroad to study.
Nearly 400 Chinese universities have received more than 400,000 foreign students from 179 countries over the past two decades. The annual number of foreign students coming to China in the past few years has remained at 80,000.
Cao said enhancing international exchanges and co-operation is an important part of the ministry's plan for developing education between 2003 and 2007.
(China Daily August 24, 2004)