BENEDICT TEMBO, Lusaka
ONCE separated from their homeland by miles of land and sea in pursuit of education, Zambians who were trained in China are now ready to push their learning experience beyond the classroom.
As the Chinese say, â€œA journey of a thousand miles begins with a single stepâ€, the former students want to take another step to help other students secure scholarships to China and find jobs back home after completing their studies.
With 500 Chinese companies working in the country, Zambia-China Old Students Association (ZACOSA) chairperson Friday Mulenga says it is time for the former students to tap into the Chinese investment in Zambia.
Mr Mulenga says despite the students having graduated from Chinese institutions few years ago, many are yet to find employment.
Mr Mulenga estimates that the organisationâ€™s database has 150 former students who need help to get jobs.
â€œThere could be 150 out there who we need to bring to the fold,â€ Mr Mulenga, who is Zambia National Airports manager at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, says.
He reckons Chinese investment, which has streamed into Zambia over the past 10 years could definitely be viewed as an opportunity for students trained in China to promote cooperation between the two countries.
Mr Mulenga says despite hundreds of Zambians having been trained in China recently, his organisationâ€™s database as at now has 100 members.
He, however, does not blame most students who may have graduated from the various tertiary institutions in China because they may not be aware about ZACOSA, whose among other objectives is to champion the professional interests of its members.
ZACOSA aims to promote and enhance cultural, social and educational exchange between Zambia and China as well as enhance bilateral relations and promote an economic platform between the two countries.
Zambia and Chinaâ€™s bilateral relations have seen enhanced educational, social and cultural exchange between the two countries.
The organisation has created a platform between old and new members to exchange ideas of mutual interest between the members.
He says ZACOSAâ€™s intention is to establish contact with all former Zambian Chinese graduate students throughout the world.
â€œWe want to assist our members to get jobs, particularly new graduates to settle down,â€ Mr Mulenga says.
Mr Mulenga says this can be achieved through the organisationâ€™s link with the Zambia â€“ Chinese Association, which has a corporate membership of 500 with investments close to US$3 billion.
As part of championing the professional interests of its members, ZACOSA has created a platform to identify new members by bringing them to the fold.
The organisation also aims to exchange ideas of interest among members and networking.
To this effect, ZACOSA has organised a networking session to be held on Saturday, June 18 at the BOZ Sports Club in Lusaka.
Mr Mulenga says old and new members will exchange notes in an atmosphere of brotherhood over a braii.
It is during this interactive occasion that ZACOSA intends to announce an upcoming conference in China whose theme is â€˜Africa and China relations.â€™
Mr Mulenga says members, both old and new, will be free to provide input into what ZACOSA will carry to China.
ZACOSA will also use the meeting at Bank of Zambia to choose delegates to the China conference billed for July 27 to August 5, 2016.
The organisationâ€™s treasurer Christopher Banda says next Saturdayâ€™s meeting will be cross-cutting as the organisation intends to use it as a mobilisation platform.
â€œWe launched the organisation sometime back but there are some students who recently graduated, we need to create awareness about our existence,â€ Mr Banda says.
ZACOSA collaborates with Chinaâ€™s Confucius Institute because both stand on similar firm ground to nurture and strengthen the Zambia-China bilateral relationship through educational, cultural and social exchange programmes.
â€œZACOSAâ€™s third objective is to provide consulting services to parents who intend to send their children to study in China,â€ Mr Mulenga says.
ZACOSA was launched on May 14 at the Chinese Embassy at a ceremony, which was graced by Chinese ambassador to Zambia Zhou Yuxiao.
This followed the organisationâ€™s first extraordinary annual general meeting on December 26, 2013 in Lusaka at which the Mulenga-led executive board was ushered into office on a two-year mandate.
Others in the executive were Durban Kambaki, vice president (who is now in Germany and was replaced by Arnold Ngowani), Danny Malombola-treasurer (now pursuing his masters in China, replaced by Christopher Banda), Chris Chisuta – secretary, William Tembo, Arnold Ngowani and Malama Musonda as board members.
BENEDICT TEMBO, Lusaka