Project Title: China-Africa University Partnerships in Education and Training: Students, Trainees, Teachers and Researchers

  • Funding Scheme : General Research Fund
  • Project Number : 842,912
  • Principal Investigator: Dr Li Jun
  • Abstract:

The 2009 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC)’s 2010-2012 Action Plan announced the twinning of 20 Chinese and 20 African universities, with most partners having a history of collaboration with Africa and China respectively. The Plan also offered short-term training for 20,000 Africans and 5,500 long-term scholarships by 2012. In addition, it pledged several other forms of China-Africa university partnership: in science and technology, research exchange, post-doctoral support, and language development for Confucius Institutes (CIs) in Africa. This project will study the rationale, character, quality and coherence of this cooperation, using the 20+20 university partnership of FOCAC as a lens. FOCAC has been operating since October 2000 as a unique Pan-African mechanism for offering aid, trade, economic cooperation and investment to Africa, as well as cooperation in human resource development (HRD). While substantial research has been conducted on China’s economic relations with Africa, including those covered by FOCAC, few studies addressed China’s HRD cooperation. The project will address this gap by analysing the multiple dimensions of this new China-Africa inter-university partnership, and will pay particular attention to what is delivered in China. This study will address the larger questions on FOCAC’s capacity-building programme for Africa, including the rationale for prioritising the two major components of short-term and long-term training; and the selection of the China-Africa university partnership as the principal vehicle for delivering so much of China’s plans for capacity development. More generally, an issue exists on how China’s preferred ethical discourse on the importance of South-South learning, win-win economic cooperation, mutual benefit, and people-to-people exchange squares with the fact that the 20+20 China-Africa capacity-building programme appears, in some measure, to be more of a one-way, asymmetrical partnership between China and Africa. This project will use a case study methodology with qualitative and focus group interviews, participant observation, as well as quantitative and documentary data to inventory all 20 of the selected universities in China and to investigate in more depth the experiences and perceptions of African students, trainees, teachers and researchers in a subset of nine of the 20 universities in China, and their counterparts in the nine partner African universities. This proposed research, through its training, dissemination and publications, will strengthen critical awareness and analytic capacity in Hong Kong and in the Mainland on China’s current human resources policies for Africa, and will raise implications for Hong Kong’s universities of these trends in the internationalisation of Mainland universities.