Based at the Cameroon's International Relations Institute (IRIC), the Confucius Institute in Cameroon is a testimony to the strong demand to learn the Chinese language in this Central African country.
In November, this institute, the first in the black Francophone Africa, went into partnership with five other teaching institutions to try to meet the demands for learning the Chinese language in Cameroon.
In total, the Cameroonian Confucius Institute has seven teaching centers, including IRIC, Yaounde University ll, Yaounde Superior Institute for Commerce, Yaounde Normal Superior School, Saint-Andrew School in Douala, Maroua Normal Superior School in the extreme northern parts of the country and the Buea University in the west of the country.
According to Vice-president of the Confucius Institute in Cameroon Zhang Xiaozhen, a teacher who was sent by the Zhejiang Normal University in China, the number of teachers has increased from the initial two to 17, who now include 15 from China and two from Cameroon.
"We have more than 2,000 students who are registered in our institute. We are overwhelmed. Business people, Cameroonian civil servants as well as other professionals from the private sector, are all coming to us to study Chinese," she explained.
In fact, the teaching of Chinese started in 1996 in Yaounde with the opening of the first teaching center for the Chinese language and civilization at IRIC under the Yaounde University ll. Initially, the classes were limited only to the students of the institution.
The opening up of learning to the various social classes took place five years later. At first, the number of students appeared to be very low. In 2004, due to the increased demand for Chinese classes around the entire world, this center started organizing tests and competitions whose winners had an opportunity to go to China.
In 2007, during the visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao to Cameroon, the leaders of the two countries decided to create a Confucius Institute. On Nov. 9, 2007, this Confucius Institute was inaugurated.
Its objectives include stimulating the educational and cultural exchanges, cooperation and friendly ties between China and Cameroon.
(Xinhua News Agency March 25, 2010)