By Emmanuel Edukugho
Confucious Institute has been established at the University of Lagos which will provide Chinese language teaching at various levels, teaching Chinese language instructors and providing Chinese language teaching resources.
Other services to be provided by the institute are the holding of HSK examination (Chinese proficiency test) and tests for the certification of the Chinese language teachers, providing information and consultative services concerning Chinaâ€™s education, culture, and so forth, conducting language and cultural exchange activities between China and Nigeria.
The official opening ceremony of the Confucious Institute Building, located behind Faculty and Arts, Main Campus, Akoka, Lagos, regarded as a â€œlandmark eventâ€ took place recently attended by some top government functionaries and important personalities from both the public and private sectors.
The aim of the instituteâ€™s project is to promote friendly relationship between China and other countries where Confucious institute has been established particularly through the study of Chinese language and mutually beneficial cultural exchanges.
In the University of Lagos, the activities of confucious institute will include short-term courses for interested visitors and businessmen to China, translation of documents, provision of information for prospective students on institutions of higher learning in China and ultimately the offering of degree courses in Chinese language and culture.
During the formal commissioning of the confucious institute at the University of Lagos (CI-UNILAG) which is the latest on the African continent, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tolu Odugbemi, described the event as â€œthe culmination of a series of activities and discussions over the past two years or so,â€ pointing out that, â€œthe CI-UNILAG project was at its infancy when assumed office as Vice-Chancellor of this University in 2007.â€
He expressed, delight that, in spite of teething problems, â€œwe have finally achieved its smooth take-offâ€, adding, â€œthe commissioning of the CI is a landmark in the sustained internationalization of the University of Lagos, the University of First choice and the Nationâ€™s pride.â€
Odugbemi recalled that in recent years, especially since the inception of this administration, UNILAG has concluded numerous linkage agreements with partner institutions and organisations within and outside the country.
He pointed to corporate partnerships from the MTN Foundation which the University had benefitted (Virtual Library), United Bank for Africa (proposed park and waterfront development project) and Intercontinental Bank (postgraduate students hostel).
â€œThese corporate bodies have brought into our vision of transforming our learning environment, which has been greatly enhanced by the systematic beautification of the landscape. The development of the creative Arts Visual Arts Gallery, and the adjoining Botanical and Zoological garden, and the ongoing development of the lagoon front are some of the innovative projects that have reached fruition in the last two and half years.â€
He declared that Unilagâ€™s â€œacademic and scholarly exchanges too have borne fruit in the sustained partnershipsÂ with several European and North American institutions.â€
It was made known that a number of the universityâ€™s staff are currently in China on Chinese government scholarships. Among them, which is most recent, is Mr. Omon Osiki of the Department of History and Strategic Studies, who enrolled for a PhD programme in China under the Confucious Institute.
In respect of the setting up of CI at UNILAG, Odugbemi commended all those who contributed to the successful take-off of the institute including the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Management Services), Prof. Adetokunbo Sofoluwe, the immediate past Dean of Arts, Prof. Ayodeji Olukoju, the pioneer Director of CI – UNILAG, Prof. Duro Oni, the current Director, Prof. Taiwo Akinyele, pioneer Co-Director, Prof. Youbin Yu and the Deputy Director, Dr. Muyiwa Falaiye.
The VC hopes that CI-UNILAG will boost Sino-Nigerian Cultural relations and lead to a better appreciation of Chinese Culture by Nigerians and vice versa.
â€œI can assure over Chinese counterparts of the readiness of Nigerian people to study Chinese language and culture, as they know that there is more to China than Kung Fu and the popular Chinese Cuisine.â€
Professor Taiwo Akinyele, Director Confucious Institute, UNILAG, said that after overcoming several challenges, the long-awaited commissioning has come, which he described as a â€œsignificant event, a new phase has been opened in the history of Sino-Nigerian relations and of partnerships between the University of Lagos and counterpart bodies in Nigeria and abroad.â€
He explained that CI-UNILAG like its counterparts in other parts of the world, is committed to the promotion of Chinese language and culture for global understanding and development.
â€œFrom now the Institute will commence a series of outreach programmes to the community, beginning with the University ofÂ Lagos. Our aim is to popularize Chinese language so that our people will not be short-changed in the evolving global political economy in which China is bound to play an increasingly significant role.
Arming ourselves with a medium of communication employed by billions of people will offset the disadvantage that will derive from the handicap of neglect of a major language of global trade, politics and diplomacy.â€
Akinyele emphasized that mastering Chinese language presents us with a win-win situation in a multi-polar world and the benefits of multilingualism in the complex world in which we live.