Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi, the first of such nonprofit school specializing in Chinese language education and culture communication in Africa, was officially launched on Monday.
Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Guo Chongli, Kenyan Assistant Minister for Education Kilemi Mwiria and a delegation from China's Tianjin Normal University attended the colorful launching ceremony held at Taifa Hall of the University of Nairobi.
Guo hailed the launching of the institute as a milestone in the history of education exchange between China and Kenya.
"As the first and only one Confucius Institute set up in African continent, the launching ceremony presents the significance of milestone in the history of Sino-Kenyan education change," Guo said.
"Its establishment and development is valuable fruit of educational exchanging programs between the two countries," he said.
Mwiria cited some of the benefits Kenya has got in the educational exchange between the two countries and expressed his hope that the institute will further promote healthy intellectual exchange in the areas of language and culture for the mutual benefit of the two nations.
"Our government believes very strongly that investment in education and training contributes significantly to economic growth and labor productivity. Indeed the skills and knowledge gained through education are fundamental in achieving not only the ambitions of the individuals in the knowledge-based economy but also in overall national development," he said. "It is in the light of this that we believe that the learning of the Chinese language and culture will be instrumental in strengthening cordial relationship between our two countries."
With a view to further promote cultural exchanges between China and the African countries, the educational departments of China and Kenya reached an agreement in June 2004 to establish a Confucius Institute in Nairobi.
Designated by China National office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (NOCFL), north China's Tianjin Normal University has undertaken the preparatory work of the institute at the Chinese side. The University of Nairobi, one of the best universities in east Africa, was taken as the partner of the Kenyan side.
The Confucius Institute program was designed by NOCFL to promote Chinese teaching in the world and provide excellent teachers and learning materials for overseas Chinese learners.
The number of Confucius Institutes around the world will reach 100 in the near future, according to the NOCFL's program.
Just as Germany's Goethe Institutes and Spain's Cervantes Institutes are named after dominant cultural figures from those countries, the Chinese learning institutions are named after Confucius, the leading representative of Chinese culture.
(Xinhua News Agency December 20, 2005)