Liu Yimenghan, a 19-year-old Chinese volunteer teacher in Mathare's Chang Rong Light Centre, Nairobi, capital of Kanya, is seen at a teaching session with his students. (Xinhua/Ding Xiaoxi)
Liu Yimenghan, a 19-year-old Chinese volunteer teacher in Mathare's Chang Rong Light Centre, Nairobi, capital of Kanya, is seen at a teaching session with his students. (Xinhua/Ding Xiaoxi)

The Chang Rong Light Centre, a primary school funded by Chinese situated deep inside Nairobi’s Mathare slums is only a few kilometers from the city’s central business district.

Liu Yimenghan, a 19-year-old Chinese volunteer teacher in Mathare's Chang Rong Light Centre, Nairobi, capital of Kanya, is seen at a teaching session with his students. (Xinhua/Ding Xiaoxi)
Liu Yimenghan, a 19-year-old Chinese volunteer teacher in Mathare’s Chang Rong Light Centre, Nairobi, capital of Kanya, is seen at a teaching session with his students. (Xinhua/Ding Xiaoxi)
In the slum, one will come across kiosks run by Chinese citizens who easily mingle with the residents and children who have mastered the basics of the Mandarin language.

It is also not uncommon to hear them drop a few lines in the language.

“Ni hao!” John Kinyua blurted in greetings while waving his hand when we passed by one of the kiosks being run by a Chinese national in one of the most difficult slums in the country.

“I’m a student at Chang Rong Light Centre and this is where I spend most of my time. Our teacher has been teaching us Chinese language and culture, and we hope to get a chance one day to visit China and get to sample the culture first hand,” Kinyua told Xinhua on Friday.

China is Kenya’s most important investor in infrastructural development and its interest in education has positively been accepted especially by the underprivileged children living in such slums.

Kinyua said he dropped out of school at Class Six to help his mother sell boiled maize in order to raise rent and educate his other siblings as the first born.

His dream of becoming an engineer, he said, is still valid as the centre has revived his hope.

“Chinese is actually my favorite class. Our Chinese teacher Liu is very friendly and generous and ensures we understand everything she teaches us,” Kinyua remarked.

His father, David Ngugi, who terms the education program as a timely blessing, said he wished a similar program could be extended to adults who are interested in learning Mandarin.

“China has done a lot of positive things for Kenya and their venture into education is a major boost to us, considering the fact that some of our children do not even attend local schools,” Ngugi said.

Beatrice Mwende whose daughter is also a student said the centre has acted as a link between them and China and hoped her daughter will one day get a chance to further her education in China.

“Some people are skeptical about this venture in the slums but we find it is a good thing because even learning material is provided, so we don’t have to spend any cash,” Mwende said.

China-Kenya cooperation in education and skills transfer has blossomed over the years. The Chinese Embassy in Kenya in November provided 20 scholarships worth 20,000 U.S. dollars to needy university students to enable them pursue humanities and science courses.

So far, 58 Kenyan university students from poor backgrounds have benefited from the Chinese Ambassador’s scholarship launched in 2013.

The scholarship program is a co-venture between the embassy and the University of Nairobi where they pay tuition fees for students from poor families pursuing courses like engineering, medicine, economics and finance.

The University of Nairobi hosts one of the largest Confucius institutes in sub-Saharan Africa, and has also forged link with Chinese academic institutions on modern skills training.

Recently, China Telecommunications Corporation’s (China Telecom) donated text books and sanitary towels worth 2,000 dollars to pupils of Olgumi Adventist Primary situated in Kajiado County in southern Kenya.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs at the University of Nairobi, Henry Mutoro, said the partnership will transform the lives of many children who hail from underprivileged backgrounds. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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