– Nkosinathi Wanda

The Durban University of Technology recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Chinese university, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University (FAFU) towards the establishment of a Mandarin language program at the University (DUT).

The DUT Confucius Institute (CI) program will be the first programme in KwaZulu-Natal aimed at promoting and facilitating academic exchanges between the two universities.

Speaking about the initiative, DUT International Education and Partnerships Directorate’s Special Projects Coordinator, Devanathan Govindasamy, said as the University is excited about the program. “The short term goal of the DUT CI initiative is to offer Mandarin language courses not only to DUT students and staff, but also to the local business community. The long term goal is to offer degrees in the language and this initiative will be helpful to those interested in language interpretation and translation,” he said.

Funding for the program would come from the CI headquarters in Beijing while the Chinese government will bear the cost of transporting lecturers to South Africa. “FAFU will send two lecturers to DUT, as South Africa has an important relationship with China. The DUT CI programs will help to expand research in China and South Africa. We would love to establish partnerships in many areas including engineering, health sciences, biotechnology, visual communication design and art, information technology, fashion design and textile technology and applied sciences among others,” he said.

The services of DUT trained Chinese language professionals would also be used by the eThekwini Municipality International Relations Office in offering language translation and interpretation services during municipal business meetings and cultural events hosted by the City.

Eric Apelgren, eThekwini Municipality International and Government Relations Head of Department, echoed Govindasamy’s sentiments, adding that the DUT CI programme was a positive and significant development. “The City will benefit. China is a powerful economic engine in the global village. The young people (students) will assist us in communicating confidently with Chinese business people and Chinese people in general. This will also build strong bridges between Chinese and South Africans. It will be very good for the (eThekwini) International and Government Relations Department,” he said.

Govindasamy said the program would start once details of the MoU had been finalised.

Article source: Durban University of Technology