Overview: “Flower of Chinese” Blossoms in Benin after Eight-Year Diligent Cultivation

[Source]    Xinhua News Agency [Time]    2017-05-17 14:05:55 
 

On May 10th, the Confucius Classroom at Adjarra College of Humanities and Fine Arts in Porto-Novo, the political capital of the Republic of Benin, was officially opened. It is the first Confucius Classroom set up by the Confucius Institute at the University of Abomey-Calavi in Benin. Till now, one Confucius Institute, one Confucius Classroom and eighteen Chinese Language Teaching Points exist in Benin.

The Confucius Institute at University of Abomey-Calavi was jointly established by the University of Abomey-Calavi and Chongqing Jiaotong University in March, 2009. During its eight years of existence, the number of registered Chinese students has increased from dozens at its start to more than 4000 at present, and the program has been expanded from Chinese casual classes to bachelor’s equivalent and also Major of Chinese in Teacher Training of undergraduate programs. The institute has enjoyed considerable growth in the local area.

To promote Chinese, the Confucius Institute in Benin, adhering to the policy of "Bringing in" and "Going out", has gradually enlarged the groups of Chinese learners. On the basis of successful work in enrollment and promotion of Chinese casual classes as well as the undergraduate program, it has started to branch out to private colleges and primary or middle schools.

In Benin, the institute solidifies and expands student enrollment for teaching centers by organizing lectures, exhibitions and performances, and other colorful Chinese cultural experience activities. In 2016, it selected 20 excellent students from its main campus and all the teaching centers to participate in a summer camp in China.

Although the most recent summer camp only lasted for 14 days, it left a deep impression on the students. During the camp, Donahue Axelle, a 15-year-old girl from a remote rural area in Benin rode an elevator for the first time. At the closing ceremony, she expressed hopes that she is “determined to learn Chinese well and pursue her studies in China in the future.”

In order to further promote Chinese teaching, the Confucius Institute in Benin has also arranged for a delegation of headmasters to visit China. 9 local headmasters and provosts were invited to visit the Confucius Institute Headquarters and Chongqing Jiaotong University in China.

Jacques (FULL NAME), a member of the delegation and the headmaster of IUMA Private University advocates the promotion of the Chinese language. By his initiative, the Chinese Club was set up in the university. He also personally participates in the publicity work of promoting Chinese teaching. He told the students that China is the second largest economy in the world and China’s path to development is well worth learning from for Benin. For the students, learning Chinese well not only creates more opportunities for their own future, but also helps the development of Benin.

There are 11 Chinese teachers at the Confucius Institute in Benin, who are responsible for the courses of Chinese majors, interest classes and teaching points. In addition, the institute employs 18 local Chinese teachers to assist in the teaching and management work. Of all the local teachers, four earned their PhD in China and others have acquired over ten years experience in teaching.

“The more classes Director Shen assigns me, the more fulfilled I feel, and I'm willing to take on even more!” Chinese teacher Shamir said. Shamir comes from Benin and graduated from Chongqing Normal University in 2015. He has taught 9 hours a week in two schools since being employed by the Confucius Institute at University of Abomey-Calavi. The busy schedule gives him opportunities to make full use of his knowledge and makes him proud of being able to promote Chinese and the cultural exchange between China and his country.

The institute teaches students in accordance with their aptitude. It has compiled the textbook --- Chinese for primary and secondary school students in Benin, which is used at primary and secondary schools uniformly. The textbook is practical and interesting with real-life topics catering to both Chinese and Beninese people, such as food, clothing, accommodation and transportation. It focuses on arousing the interest of primary and secondary school students in Chinese and developing their communication skills.

At present, the Confucius Institute in Benin is conducting a comparative study of Chinese and Beninese cultures, hoping to cultivate more intercultural talents. As the result of active efforts, the Chinese craze is gripping many parts of Benin: schools are offering Chinese courses and regarding it as a highlight of their development. It has also become preferential for some parents and students when choosing a school.

(Story by Zhang Gaiping, Xinhua News Agency, Porto-Novo, May. 12th)

 
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