Cooperation on education between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the People's Republic of China is based on the education cooperation agreement signed by the Uzbek Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education and the Chinese Ministry of Education on Nov 8, 1999. Along with this, Sino-Uzbek education cooperation is also based on a number of other key documents.
Every year, China grants scholarships to some students under the framework of interstate cooperation program of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which allows them to study in Chinese universities. Due to such grants and scholarships, students travel to China not only to learn the Chinese language and attend college, but also to gain experience as interns in institutions and organizations, and receive advanced training in the field of education and economics. Uzbek students can also seek scholarships to attend college in China through the Confucius Institute.
The Confucius Institutes in Uzbekistan have helped thousands of Uzbek citizens to learn the Chinese language, earn HSK level certificates (standardized test to test foreigners' Chinese language proficiency), and get better acquainted with Chinese culture. Many clubs and groups that regularly organize calligraphy, Chinese cuisine, tai chi or other competitions, or host cultural and educational events have also played an important role in popularizing the Chinese language and culture in Uzbekistan.
In particular, volunteer teachers have had a big hand in popularizing the Chinese language and culture, as they, along with local experts, have not only shared their knowledge with others but also introduced new ideas and methods of Chinese studies to the Confucius Institutes. For instance, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Confucius Institute at the Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies introduced new activities with the help of eight volunteer teachers from China.
While the number of higher educational institutions in Uzbekistan where the Chinese language is taught as a first or second foreign language is growing, the Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies remains the base of higher education in terms of Chinese studies. Also, the Confucius Institute at the university is the first of its kind in Central Asia. In fact, the university will celebrate 70 years of the founding of a school of Chinese studies later this year.
A landmark event in the history of the university was the opening of the Department of Chinese Studies in 2014. Its goal is to fully realize the educational and scientific potential of students and promote cooperation with Chinese universities and organizations.
For the past three academic years, volunteer teachers have been teaching students at the Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies, and interacting with teachers in the Department of Chinese Philology of the university to improve the teaching methods and conversational practice. While 22 Chinese specialists have taught students in the university, experts from partner universities in China have conducted online classes for undergraduate and postgraduate students in the past three years.
In the 2021-22 academic year, there were 72 Chinese study groups in fields as varied as Chinese literature, philology, Chinese history, Chinese philosophy, journalism, economics and political science. At present, there are 770 undergraduate and 88 postgraduate students, while the number of doctoral candidates is 15.
From the 2022-23 academic year, postgraduate Chinese students are being taught under the "foreign economic activity (foreign trade)" program framework. And over the past three academic years, about 20 Chinese nationals have earned bachelor's, master's or doctoral degrees in the language courses of the university.
Besides, associations such as the Chinese Language and Culture Fan Club, Young Economists Club, Young Translators Club and the School for Young Political Scientists organize extracurricular activities for students so they can spend their free time in useful pursuits.
The university has also established ties with Chinese universities such as the Shanghai International Studies University, Hunan University, Tianjin Polytechnic University, Xi'an International Studies University and the Northwestern Minzu University.
Last year saw another landmark event in Sino-Uzbek cooperation on education with the opening of the Uzbek-Chinese Research Center at the Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies. Among the center's priorities are creating monographs, promoting the study of China's domestic and foreign policies and economic practices, and the role of the Silk Road, as well as analyzing the prospects of Sino-Uzbek cooperation, which could give rise to new generation textbooks and electronic apps, and encourage more young researchers.
Undoubtedly, cooperation between Uzbek and Chinese universities and organizations will create more opportunities for people who are fluent in the Chinese language and well-versed in Chinese studies. This, in turn, will open up new horizons of cooperation between the two countries.
This is the result of the development of bilateral relations in recent years, and the upcoming visit of the President of Uzbekistan to China will in every way contribute to the development of relations in the field of education between our countries in the future.
The author is the rector of Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies, Uzbekistan.
The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
HONG KONG NEWS