A team of 22 delegates from Uganda with the following compositions: 2 Chinese experts, Director of NDCD and 19 headteachers from selected schools across the country left Uganda on 12/5/2019 for an education trip to China. We had a safe flight and were warmly received at Xiangtan University where we were hosted. This report will be in two parts: at Xiangtan University and Beijing.
PART ONE – XIANGTAN UNIVERSITY
Day 1 – Tuesday 14/5/2019
The delegates were guided in a brief tour of Xiangtan University by the volunteers. This was followed by the opening and welcome ceremony at the University Conference Hall.
Our host Ms. Shu Qizhi, the president of the International Exchange College (IEC) Academic Committee was delighted to receive the delegation from Uganda and wished them a good stay in China.
She later invited the Vice President of Xiangtan University Mr. Ning Jianmin who welcomed the members and assured them that the visit was going to be very successful. He said Confucius Institutes outside China are in France and Makerere University in Uganda. He told members to feel comfortable since they were assigned volunteers to make them enjoy their stay in China and enjoy the Chinese culture. He wished the delegation success in all their programme and activities. He ended his remarks by quoting the words of Confucius, “It is a pleasure to have friends come from far to visit another”.
His speech was followed by the Director of the National Curriculum Development Centre – Uganda: Mrs. Grace Baguma Kanyiginya. She gave the background of the Uganda Education with more emphasis on foreign languages and Chinese being the newest and latest foreign language introduced besides Latin, Arabic, French and German that were already being taught and examined. Chinese being a new language, she mentioned challenges that may hinder the implementation as of teaching it as follows:
1. Limited numbers of teachers for the Chinese language since Uganda had only 30 of them at the moment - i.e. one teacher per school and given the big class size and increasing number of students wanting to do Chinese, it is a big challenge.
2. Few Chinese natives who could back up the number of teachers of Chinese in the country. More are needed to be distributed across the whole country (Uganda).
3. Limited instructional materials inform of text books and other learning aids
4. There are too many secondary schools that are interested in introducing Chinese in their schools
5. Schools are not yet well prepared and yet the current Chinese classes are to sit the national examination in 2022.
In her concluding remarks, she appreciated the Ministry of Education And Sports and the entire country (Uganda) for the cooperation and collaboration between the government of Uganda and China. She declared that Uganda intends to introduce Chinese at “A” level and later train teachers for Chinese language at Makerere University.
In the afternoon, the team went to the Provincial Education Department.
The delegates were well received by the Provincial Education team. The president said the Provincial Education Department had made a lot of efforts in the promotion of education. The Province has the following levels of education: Kinder Gardens, Compulsory Education, High School and College/University Education. The first two levels are fully popularized and the law asked everyone to have compulsory education for all the children and at these levels, there are no examinations. Examinations begin at High school and continue at University and College levels. Each province has its own policies although at the national levels there are general policies and policy review is done every five years. He mentioned that their education system has also evolved over time like other countries.
The Director of NCDC also gave the Uganda education system that runs from Kinder Gardens, primary, secondary and Tertiary/University education. She later appreciated the exiting education development between Uganda and China and wished for continuity of Uganda students coming to China.
Day two Wednesday 15/5/2019
This day started with a visit to Xiangtan Yizhi Middle School.
The delegates were warmly received with banquettes of flowers by the pupils of the school. The Principal of the school welcomed the members and introduced his team which comprised of:
1. (i) The Secretary for the Union, whose role in the school is to ensure that the interest and rights of the teachers are met. He thanked the Ugandan team for coming to China and assured them that the visit will bring lasting friendship and cooperation between Uganda and China.
(ii) The Party Committee Secretary; whose role is to maintain the ideological and political interest of the government. They make sure the teachers impart moral education and ensure that schools run under the control of government.
(iii) The Principal; whose main role is administrative and ensuring implementation of the daily activities of the school.
He said the nature of education is the same i.e. they have school based curriculum where the schools go through various levels of education from kinder gardens to universities and colleges. A unique component of their education is happiness education; here children are taught to be positive in life, to be creative and to be self oriented. They are not to be happy only while in school but happy all their life. This has made their pupils more actively involved and have a more volunteering attitude. They also have moral education which helps to shape the character of the children and creates a happy child. The third part of their education is practical and cultural courses which make the students own and love their own cultural heritage and increase their interest in happiness education. It is geared at comprehensive development of the students not only to succeed in academics but to fit in all spheres of life.
After the symposium, the delegates attended an English lesson in a Chinese context. The class size is small; about 40 students in class and the lesson is more pupil centred and with modern technology, the use of ICT enhanced the lesson. We ended by touring the campus.
The afternoon session was an academic lecture based on the development of Chinese language from borrowed words to what is now their own Chinese language with their own calligraphy. Like most languages of the world, Chinese employ intonation to differentiate meanings of the same words. The Chinese word order is SVO (Subject, Verb, Object) and the most important characteristic is the Grammar of the language. The teaching of Chinese language is embedded in the culture of the people. “The fact is that we cannot detach language from culture,” the lecturer commented.
An amazing fact is that Chinese language is gaining popularity in the five continents of the world: America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania, very soon, China will conquer the world.
Current teaching of Chinese is for the following reasons:
1. Chinese for international education by promoting Chinese traditional culture.
2. Chinese for diplomatic affairs. They now have Hungarian-Chinese dictionary
3. To mention but a few of the many countries that have signed contracts relating to Chinese language teaching and have included it in their syllabus are Portugal, Italy, Spain and Uganda.
Day three: Thursday 16/5/2019
Lecture of Chinese traditional culture – Chinese Calligraphy by Prof. Tang Hongbo
The traditional Chinese calligraphy is related to Chinese Art. It depicts the following: the meaning of Chinese sculpture, the style of writing which represents the major Chinese cultural invention. He mentioned the major tools one should have to write the Chinese calligraphy as follows:
1. Chinese writing brush. Its history dates back 2000 years ago, made from bamboo and animal hair such as rabbits, deer, goats etc. its characteristics is that it has sharp tip, even and elastic and with a holder.
2. Chinese ink. It has been in use for over 2000 years and it’s made from plywood, soot, etc. it is different from western ink because it doesn’t fade when it is exposed to light while the western ink fades.
3. Chinese paper. Is one of the four inventions of ancient Chinese calligraphy and paintings. It is made from rice, wheat, bamboo, etc. it is soft as wool, white as snow and light as feather.
4. Chinese seal and Chinese paste. These are used to stamp official communication/letter by the emperor.
After the lecture, the delegates became students in the calligraphy class. It was an interesting moment since everyone was struggling to write the Chinese calligraphy.
The delegates were driven to Changsha city to the Hunan Province Museum. We went to the Mawangdui Han Dynasty, where we saw the exhibition of Human History and Culture and a lot of other impressive sites.
Day four: Friday 17/5/2019
Lecture of Chinese traditional culture – Beijing Opera
Delegates were driven to Baishi Art Ecological Park where we viewed exhibitions of preserved fossils of: wild animals, birds, plants, fruits, stones, reptiles.... We also saw the classical works of Arts especially paintings, one particular room was where all the different types of butterflies in the world were preserved.
We were also treated to their classical music, dance and drama shows that depicted how the Chinese people still treasure their cultural heritage using different Chinese musical sounds and instruments.
Academic Lectures – The road of Chinese Education Development – from big to strong.
China, from being among the world’s populace and once an illiterate country is now among the world’s second largest economy with their GDP exceeding 90 trillion by 2010. They have engaged in massive illiteracy campaign bringing the spring of anti-illiteracy education. They have made significant improvement on education level. Years ago, 80% of the people were illiterate and today 85% are well educated. They call it a miracle that has never existed in the world’s populace country.
From Saturday 18th to Monday 21st (5th – 8th day)
We had lectures and visited the following places: Chinese culture of Art and costumes, traditional culture of Xiang embroidery, visit to the birth place of Chairman Mao Zedong, visit to the Qi Bishi museum, etc.
We had an academic lecture by Prof. Hu Yan who invented e money in China and he named it AliPay for the fourth generation payment system. Using this technology, one doesn’t need to carry cash for any transaction; the money is stored in the card. It was a very enriching experience.
The closing cerermony was in the afternoon of Monday 21st. speeches were delivered by the following persons: President of the IEA Academic committee, Chief of international exchange department, the Uganda delegation representative and finally by the Vice President of Xiangtan University who later awarded certificates to all the participants.
Day 9 Wednesday 22nd May,
We left Xiangtan for Beijing by train, it was a safe trip.
PART TWO – BEIJING
Thursday 23rd May to Sunday 26/5/2019 (10th to 14th day)
We had a study tour of Beijing history and culture; where we visited the Forbidden City and the Temple of Confucius. We also went to Confucius Institute Headquarters where there were a lot of information about Confucius and his writings.
We also visited a middle school and attended the following lessons: English, Art and craft and Physical Education. We also visited the Great Wall and the National Museum of China.
On the evening of Sunday 26/5/2019, we took our flight back home and arrived safely on Monday 27/5/2019
In conclusion, our trip and stay in China was successful and enjoyable. We wish to thank and appreciate the following persons: The Director and Management of Confucius Institute of Makerere University, the Director of the National Curriculum Development Centre (Uganda), the Management and staff of Xiangtan University, the Hotel staff both in Xiangtan and Beijing and the volunteers who made our stay in China successful, enjoyable and meaningful.
1. Uganda government should investment in education by giving the first priority to education if our country is to grow economically.
2. Emphasize on the implementation of free and quality education for all by giving equal opportunity for every child to be in school.
3. Abolish examinations at lower primary and let the children enjoy learning without examination stress, leading to HAPPINESS EDUCATION.
4. Education for poverty alleviation to fully win the battle against poverty
5. Develop more and more vocational schools
1. Something of interest was that the Chinese love nature and protects it. You will see some sick trees on drip so that life is not lost from them. Amazing! See from the pictures.
2. We (sisters) became tourist attraction especially when we went to visit the birth place of Mao Zedong the greatest man in china because he liberated and brought them from darkness to light, bondage to freedom. The pictures where we are with the whites are testimonies to this. I would like to encourage my sisters that our identity by wearing the habit speaks better than words. Let us stick to the habit and win souls to Christ.
3. My advice to all of us is to take little or no sugar at all, avoid oily and fatty foods, eat red paper. Eat plenty of fruits, drink a lot of water and green tea (without sugar), drink warm water more than cold, and finally, do a lot of exercise such as walking, and skipping, depending on your condition. Never give up in life especially on health grounds. And pray always and all the time.
COMPILED BY: Sr. Grace Angelina Aciro