Through a competitive process, involving over 560 Confucius Institutes (CI) globally, the University of Johannesburg-NanjingTech CI (UJCI) was recognised with the Confucius Institute (Classroom) of the Year award on the 9th December 2019.
Classroom of the year embodies holistic learning development that is also culturally contextualised and appropriate. UJCI has attracted a number of strategic relations with China, including the visit of the Vice-Minister of Science and Technology of China. The partnership platform of the UJCI has developed an ecosystem for learning, inclusive of research, innovation and internationalisation.
In 2018, the UJCI expanded its activities through the Centre for Africa-China Studies (CACS). CACS, among others, seeks to define an index, or measure, for mutually beneficial cooperation between Africa and China.
A progressing element of the UJCI is the aspect of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). 4IR defines the strategic contextualisation of the University of Johannesburg’s strategy for Global Excellence and Stature (GES). Regarding this, UJ’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Marwala, foresees comprehension of languages augmented through technology. This is a shared vision with the Vice-Minister of Education in China, Mr Tian Xuejun who recognised the role of artificial intelligence (AI) as an approach for scaling of activities, including that of the teaching of Mandarin.
Professor Saurabh Sinha, UJ’s DVC: Research and Internationalisation, added that the award was a fitting recognition of the University’s quest in developing strategic international collaborations and defining boundaries that enable mutual beneficial, long-term relationships. “This award is a testament to the outstanding leadership of UJCI co-directors, Dr David Monyae and Prof Peng Yi and their team, who worked tirelessly and made a significant impact in fostering mutual understanding between not only China and Africa but also Africa and other countries in the Global South,” said Prof Sinha.
At the 2019 International Chinese Language Education Conference, UJ officials were accompanied, by the NanjingTech leadership. The leadership team from NanjingTech included President, Qiao Xu and Vice-President, Niu Shengjie. The awards ceremony was held in conjunction with the 2019 International Chinese Language Education Conference, Changsha, Hunan, China.
Dr David Monyae and Prof Peng Yi said: “It is in the best interest for South Africa and Africa to continue working on enhancing relations with China enabling economic and socially relevant gains. China has demonstrated that it is possible to attain economic growth in record time and boost millions of people out of poverty. UJCI and CACS will continue working as a bridge between Africa and China with a special focus on strengthening the existing relationships through rigorous research in the advancement of a better life for all.”
Among other recent accomplishments: together with NanjingTech, UJ also launched a joint research centre in Chemical Engineering and the Built Environment. This research centre finds alignment with the national entities, in South Africa: Department of Science and Innovation (DST) and in China, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). This scientific cooperation has also been envisioned by H.E. President Xi Jinping at the opening ceremony of South Africa-China Scientists High-Level Dialogue.