Local Director of the Confucius Institute at Fourah Bay College, Kenneth Osho, has disclosed that 20 students of the institute would visit China in December this year.

He made this disclosure during the celebration of Language Studies Week (Chinese Day) last Thursday at the Mary Kingsley Auditorium, on FBC campus, themed “Language: the way to breaking barriers.”

Mr Osho said the Confucius Institute started in March 2012, but was officially launched in September 2012, adding that from just two tutors the institute now has five.

“The Institute also has five teaching places which include FBC, IPAM, one private secondary school, Lumley fishing community. Since the establishment of the Confucius Institute, we have trained 4,000 students Chinese learners,” he said.

He disclosed that the Institute had given scholarship to 18 students who are pursuing post-graduate studies in China, adding that currently eight students are in China pursuing courses in Chinese, with another six due to travel this September.

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He said over 60 members of government institutions and students have visited China in recent times.

“I have just received the results of those Sierra Leoneans who are studying in China. The results are very good and I was told that they are having a resounding success in the pursuance of their courses in China,” he told the gathering of students, faculty members, guest and journalists.

He explained that six new courses have been introduced into the curriculum at the University of Sierra Leone this year, but the Chinese language is not among. He said he had optimism that by 2017 students should have begun majoring in Chinese but that was scuppered by the outbreak of Ebola. “By 2018, we are hoping to start doing Chinese language as a course and students will have to graduate with B.A. major in Chinese Language,” he declared.

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He said he is doing a proposal that would enable the Confucius Institute to be independent of the Language Studies Department.

Speaking at the event, Director of Middle East and Asia in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mohamed S. Conteh described the relationship between Sierra Leone and China as “fruitful.”

He said China had been the most responsive and steadfast partner to Sierra Leone and that that was evident during the Ebola outbreak when the Chinese were the first to come to the aid of Sierra Leone. He added that the Chinese have been supporting the country in the areas of agriculture, education, fisheries, sport, infrastructure, electricity, among others.

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The outgone President of the Chinese Language Society (CLASO), Jane E.T. Conteh, said some students of Fourah Bay College, through help from the Confucius Institute, have been able to break the language barrier and can now speak the Chinese language fluently.

“Most of our colleagues have been gainfully employed as Chinese interpreters. We have broken the chain between cultures as we can now do many things in Chinese,” she said.

Meanwhile, poems and drama performances in mandarin Chinese climaxed the event.