Confucius Classroom Gets into Sinochem's African Rubber Plantation

Date:2016-02-16 Source:Sinochem Group

Cameroon December 6th, 2015 local time - In the Sinochem SUDCAM Rubber Plantation, a Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK) is ongoing, the first of its kind organized by the Confucius Institute at the University of Yaounde II at the Sinochem SUDCAM Rubber Plantation test site.

The test began at 1:30 PM. Mr. Wang Zhicheng, General Manager of SUDCAM Rubber Plantation, personally patrolled around the test site during the test, to ensure the test went on well. Abunda, a company staff member who was once an international student in China, actively assisted the test supervisor in organizing the entire test.

The HSK test is held annually in China and abroad. Those who pass the test receive the Chinese Proficiency Certificate of the corresponding level, which may serve as a certificate of any foreign student's Chinese language skills upon application for admission to a Chinese higher education institution or as evidence of the Chinese proficiency of a candidate for an open position with a company. "Employees who have reached a certain proficiency level may have the opportunity to study in China, and the company will choose employees who receive company-funded air tickets for China depending on their performance, and upon completion of study, these employees will return and continue to serve the company," said Wang Zhicheng.

All the test candidates for this administration are students of the SUDCAM teaching site, including over 20 individuals from the management of the Rubber Plantation and family members of foreign employees. The youngest test candidates are the two children of Jimmy, Deputy General Manager of the Rubber Plantation, aged 7 and 10 respectively. In order to create a favorable test environment and ensure the test goes on well, the Confucius Institute and the Company have made careful arrangements and preparations; on the day immediately preceding the test day, the Company specially sent a vehicle to fetch the main supervisors and HSK test papers from the Confucius Institute; one month before the test, teachers provided special guidance to students to familiarize them with the test method and procedure.

In fact, this partnership between both parties dates back to September 10th, 2015, when the Confucius Institute officially set a Chinese language teaching site at Sinochem SUDCAM. As a voluntary teacher at the Confucius Institute, I have been responsible for delivering classes at the teaching site. Thanks to the support and efforts of the Company, this teaching site has developed well in class organization, curriculum arrangement and availability of teaching resources.

Upon inception of the teaching site, the students were mostly office staff members of SUDCAM, including the Company's executives, mid-level departments and family members of foreign employees. As the Company keeps growing, the local staff team keeps expanding, which results in a significantly increased number of potential students, especially with the establishment of the elementary school in the Plantation, and gives rise to the demand for more and better Chinese teachers.

Hectic as they are, the local employees of the Rubber Plantation are highly enthusiastic about learning Chinese. To facilitate the learning of Chinese, the Company agrees to move forward the work schedules for the morning and the afternoon by one hour respectively, and employees may participate in learning during the off-duty hours from 4-6 P.M., of their own accord. So far, some employees are able to have some simple conversations in Chinese. Mr. Wang acknowledges the great value of the Chinese teaching site to the Company, as it not only takes specialized experts in rubber planting, but also professionals with multidisciplinary background in languages, finance, HR, engineering and PR as well as senior managerial staffs to build ultra-large rubber plantations in Africa. "Given the inherent scarcity of such multicultural staffs, and the difficulty in retaining qualified people at the Company for the long term due to the poor living conditions, it appears particularly important to rely on the locals for human resources."

In a mere three months, the Confucius Institute and Sinochem SUDCAM Rubber Plantation have entered into a close partnership, and made valuable attempts to collaborate in language training, cultural promotion, employment and internships. As yet another achievement of the partnership, setting of the HSK test site will greatly boost the passion of plantation staffs for learning Chinese, as HSK test sites are available in Yaounde, Douala and Maroua only. This test site will be the first set by the Confucius Institute at the University of Yaounde II within a Chinese company, and one of the few in the entire African continent. According to Yu Guoyang, Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Yaounde II, the Confucius Institute will use SUDCAM as a center for Chinese language training and internships by recommending recognized Chinese language students to practise at Sinochem on an annual basis. "This teaching and test site will influence local staffs in language, thoughts, ideas and culture, and enable more local staffs to better serve the Company in the longer term," said Mou Xiangfeng, Deputy General Manager of GMG Company under Sinochem International and General Manager of Africa Center.

As a teacher involved in this endeavor, I feel excited and honored: with the concerted efforts of the teachers and students, among the 20 test candidates, 3 achieved the full score of 200, 8 achieved 180, and the candidates achieved an average score of 155 and a passing rate of 85% during this test. In the future, the students will continue to work hard to pass levels 2, 3 and 4 tests, and also learn Chinese culture based on the language, to better serve the Company. "It is our hope that all the local staffs of SUDCAM speak Chinese one day in the future, which we believe is not far." This is not only my personal wish, but also our common aspiration.