From 1-8 December 2019, a delegation of five members of the Open University of China (OUC) led by Zhang Luanjiao, head of the Department of Student Affairs and Teacher Development, visited Zambia and Botswana at the invitation of Sino-Zam Vocational College of Science and Technology and Botswana Open University to learn about the operation of the OUC Learning Centre in Zambia and to investigate future cooperation with Botswana Open University.

The investigation team visited the Training Centre of NFC Africa Mining PLC and had a discussion and exchange meeting with persons in charge of the personnel department. The inspection team reviewed the use of equipment donated by the OUC, learnt about the training needs of Chinese and foreign employees at NFC Africa Mining PLC, and consulted on the development of human resources at NFC Africa Mining PLC by giving full play to the advantages of distance education technology and digital learning resources of the OUC organisational system.

The delegation also visited CNMC-Luanshya Copper Mines PLC and Sino-Zam Vocational College of Science and Technology located in Luanshya. They held in-depth talks with relevant personnel and learnt about the front-line needs of company employees and technical school students for learning Chinese and technical skills training, as well as the specific needs for hardware equipment, facilities, software, teachers, and resources, and further clarified the direction of promoting education cooperation and teaching Chinese as a foreign language in the future. The representatives of CNMC-Luanshya Copper Mines PLC hope that the number of OUC overseas learning centres will increase and efforts can be made to popularise Chinese.

The delegation also visited the Confucius Institute of the University of Zambia jointly established by Hebei University of Economics and Business and the University of Zambia. Through interviews and face-to-face discussions, they gained a deeper understanding of the development of the "Chinese Vocational Education" and "Vocational Education Going Global” pilot programmes.

In April 2019, when the vice president of Botswana Open University visited the OUC, he expressed a strong desire to cooperate with the OUC in the future. With this opportunity to pay a return visit to Botswana, the team learned about Botswana Open University, which was established in 2017, and signed a memorandum of understanding on bilateral cooperation. Botswana Open University expressed its willingness to explore the establishment of online overseas learning centres and strengthen cooperation on the construction of OUC overseas learning centres.

During the visit, employees from local companies and related persons spoke with the delegation and praised the OUC’s commitment to serving the Belt and Road Initiative. They were impressed that the OUC is giving full play to the advantages of its technology and curriculum resources to offer educational assistance and the teaching of Chinese as a foreign language, and expressed satisfaction for the effectiveness of the projects. Furthermore, they hope that the OUC will continue to conduct in-depth research on how to meet the needs of people and companies in Africa, and further expand areas of assistance and cooperation based on effective work in the early stages. The delegation felt that they gained a deep sense of the effects and influence of the Belt and Road Initiative and further clarified the measures that the OUC can use to actively serve the implementation of the national strategy and actively promote modern vocational education and teaching Chinese as a foreign language.

By Hou Songyan,OUC