Liberian Govt Hails China’s Scholarship Program -As 190 Students Benefit for Grad Studies

MONROVIA – In furtherance of its commitment to maintain and promote its relationship with Liberia and its continuous support for the realization of the objective of the national development plan, the Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), the Government of China has awarded an amazing 190 scholarships to Liberian students to pursue graduate studies in various disciplines, just as the government being upbeat and excited has commended the initiative from the Chinese government and people.

In his welcome remarks at the pre-departure ceremony held at the Embassy of China, Chinese Ambassador to Liberia Ren Yisheng congratulated the awardees for their selection and also thanked the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Education and other government agencies for the level of cooperation the Chinese mission to Liberia has been receiving with respect to the exchange program.

He used the occasion to reiterate the essence of the China-Liberia relationship and the contributions China has made to Liberia over the years under the Belt and Road Initiative, the major platform for Chinese development assistance to other countries, especially the developing countries.

“In recent years, under the framework of the Belt & Road Initiative(BRI) advocated by President Xi Jinping and the “Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development”(PAPD) advocated by President George Manneh Weah, China-Liberia cooperation has achieved fruitful results in such areas as economy and trade, health care, infrastructure construction, food security, and human resource development. The China-aided projects such as the Ministerial Complex, the two annexes to the Capitol Building, and the Roberts International Airport through concessional loan have become new landmarks of Monrovia. Technical assistance for SKD Sports Complex and LBS are ongoing. New projects like the two Overpass Bridges on Tubman Boulevard, the National Clinical Diagnostic and Treatment Lab at 14 Military Hospital, the Fingerprint Comparison Lab, and LBS upgrade and expansion are in the tendering and procurement phases. A Chinese engineering team is expected to come to conduct the feasibility study for the Somalia-Sinkor Road and Bridge project. The two governments are working closely on implementing a new phase of economic and technical cooperation”, the Ambassador said.

Education Minister D. Ansu Sonii who headed government’s delegation at the program extended immense thanks and appreciation to the government and people of china for the support given Liberia over the years, especially in the education sector which has seen a huge number of Liberian students and workers benefiting for various study opportunities ranging from short term training to full university education for Bachelor’s and post graduate studies.

He urged the beneficiaries to be good ambassadors of the country by being studious, hardworking and abiding by the laws of China just like the others before them who went through similar process and are back home making their invaluable contributions to the nation building process.

“We can only thank the government and people of China for being magnanimous to us in our years of need. China’s support to Liberia’s reconstruction remains unmatched especially in the area of education where we have seen hundreds of our students and other Liberians travelling to China to undergo studies in various disciplines and training programs and returning to impact what they have learned on the development of the country. We are grateful for that and want to urge our students and other Liberians to make full use of the opportunities being given to them. Go and be good ambassadors of your country by being studious and respectful to the laws of the country”, Minister Sonii said.

Remarks came from heads of some of higher institutions that are currently benefiting from the Chinese support and assistance to the education sector. President of the University of Liberia, Dr. Julius J. Sarwolo Nelson, while commending the recipients of the scholarship and describing them as the “creme de la creme” among Liberia’s intelligentsia, praised China for the support given to the country in the area of education.

He specifically mentioned the local scholarships being offered to Liberian students at the various universities in the country under the Ambassador Local Scholarship Scheme, the Confucius Institute which promotes the studies of Chinese language and culture and the peace Liberia has enjoyed since the end of the civil war.

The People’s Republic of China has been one of most outstanding pillars to the education sector of Liberia as the country is directly involved in the transformation of the minds of young and deserving Liberians to adequately prepare themselves for the challenging task of nation building process of Liberia. One of such contributions is the awarding of scholarships to students to study in China. The University of Liberia has benefited immensely in the past years from those scholarship opportunities and we would like to extend our sincere appreciation to you, your excellency and the people of China. Another contribution to the educational sector is the establishment of the Confucius Institute at the University of Liberia which was officially launched on December 18, 2014, whose purpose was to teach the chinese language in order to break the language barriers between the Chinese and Liberian students as many Liberian students travel to China for studies in various disciplines in order to return to help the people of Liberia”, Dr. Nelson said.

Remarks also came from Dr. Romelle A. Horton, President of Cuttington University,  who, speaking via zoom, commended the Chinese government through its Embassy in Liberia for the various forms of support to the education sector, stating the initiative will never be forgotten.

While looking forward to more beneficial initiatives, Dr. Horton called for the expansion of the program that will include Chinese students coming to Liberia in an exchange program where they will also  learn more about Liberia. She also admonished the students to seize every opportunity attached to the scholarships so that they will be useful to the nation upon their completion of studies and return to the country.

Two other former beneficiaries who attended in China and acquired post graduate qualifications, also spoke to extol the Chinese and offered words of encouragement, motivation and pieces of advice to the China-bound scholars.

Dr. Abimelech Paye Gbatu, President of the Bomi County Community College and Mr. Ponnie Robertlee Dolo, Chief Medical Director of the Jackson Fiah Doe Memorial Hospital in Tappita City, Nimba County, both while thanking China for the support over the years, also shared their personal experiences while under the program which bordered on describing the Chinese as hospitable, hard working, serious minded and friendly and called on the scholars to learn a lot from those who have gone there before them and replicating the same upon their return, citing their own cases where they are now playing various roles at their respective places of work in the cause of contributing to the nation building process.

One of the highlights of the event was the presentation of Certification of Appreciation to the Chinese Ambassador Ren Yisheng by the Liberia Association of Chinese Trained Scholars under the leadership of Filmore Wiagbe in acknowledgment of the opportunities given to them over the years to study in china. The Certification was turned over to Minister Sonii, who in turn on behalf of the group presented the gift to Mr. Yisheng amid cheers and ovation from the attendees.

The occasion attracted government officials led by Minister Sonii, members of the staff of the Chinese Embassy led by Mr. Yisheng, media practitioners, the scholars, among others.  It marked the resumption of all the scholarship opportunities from the Chinese government after its closure due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in China and then spread to almost all countries of the world.

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