Some 28 students will depart Sierra Leone for China on Sunday after receiving scholarships from the Chinese government to study in various fields.
In his speech at the farewell reception hosted at the Chinese embassy on Wednesday, ambassador Cheng Wenju said it was the third time for him to hold a farewell reception to see off Sierra Leonean students to study in China on Chinese government scholarships.
The ambassador said despite the vast distance between both countries, China and Sierra Leone enjoyed a long history of friendly exchanges.
“Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 36 years ago, China-Sierra Leone relations have registered fast and healthy growth on all fronts, and the friendship and trust between our two peoples have been further enhanced,” he noted, adding that “we support each other in international affairs, and maintain close and sincere cooperation in agriculture, infrastructure, trade, health and sanitation, education, etc. It has been proved that strong China-Sierra Leone relations of all-round cooperation serve the fundamental interests of both countries and peoples.”
Ambassador Cheng Wenju stated that his government had assigned 18 agricultural experts to Sierra Leone, donated a batch of anti-malaria drugs, and granted additional 30 government scholarships to Sierra Leone, making the total number of 65 Sierra Leonean students studying in China each year.
“Young people are the future of a country and the hope of a nation. Education is essential to the growth and development of young people. For years now, both governments have taken education as an important issue in developing bilateral relations and friendship.
The Chinese government regards it as its top priority to develop the country through science and education. Educators and teachers are well respected in China, and are described as the architects of people’s souls.
Because of the ruthless civil war in Sierra Leone, many young people lost chances to receive good education.
But to our joy, your country and people have fully realized the importance of education to Sierra Leone’s rehabilitation, and adopted positive measures to vitaliz`udents to conduct systematic study in China with full scholarships in around 20 majors, such as medicine, agriculture and civil engineering.
“Every student in the audience is fortunate. For most of you, it’s the first time to study abroad.
The early days in a different country may be tough in terms of different climate, different customs, the language barrier and even homesickness. However, no matter what kind of circumstances you will be in, do bear in mind what you go to China for”, the ambassador continued.
“I hope you will grasp this valuable chance to learn as much knowledge as possible, and come back after graduation to make contributions to your country. Sierra Leone is a country full of hope, brimming with vitality and thirsty for development. I believe every one of you will find a fitting job after you come back and bring all your talents into full play.
“Finally, I expect every one of you to become the envoy of China-Sierra Leone friendship, taking up the responsibility of promoting mutual understanding between our two peoples, and making efforts to develop our friendly relations! I wish you a pleasant journey and all the success in your study in China!”
The minister of education, Dr Alpha Wurie in his short speech, told the students that they were going to China as Sierra Leoneans and not by their respective tribes.
He urged them all to be steadfast and return to be professionals.
He congratulated all of them and appealed to them to be ambassadors of Sierra Leone and to comport themselves in a positive manner.
The students are expected to leave Sierra Leone on Sunday with Bellview Airlines and they will be going through Lagos, Addis Ababa on to Beijing.
The scholarships were awarded to undergraduates right on to students going to do their doctorates, and the courses ranging from two years to five years.