Ashraf el-Shihy, Egyptian Chinese University (ECU) president and Egypt's former higher education minister, speaks during an interview in Cairo, Egypt, on Aug. 4, 2019. The Egyptian Chinese University (ECU) in Cairo is keen to be a center for promoting the Chinese culture in Egypt based on the growing cooperation between Egypt and China, Ashraf el-Shihy told Xinhua in a recent interview. (Xinhua/Wu Huiwo)
by Mahmoud Fouly
CAIRO, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Egyptian Chinese University (ECU) in Cairo is keen to be a center for promoting the Chinese culture in Egypt based on the growing cooperation between Egypt and China, the ECU president and Egypt's former higher education minister told Xinhua in a recent interview.
"Opened in 2016, the university carries the name of China and represents the Chinese culture and promotes it in Egypt and Africa in general," said Ashraf el-Shihy, adding that "the ECU is the first and only one of its kind in the Middle East and Africa."
The ECU started operation with the faculty of engineering in 2016, so it has no graduates yet. The faculties of economy and physical therapy, the only one in Egypt that teaches traditional Chinese medicine, started operation in 2017 while the faculty of pharmacy will be opened in 2020 as the fourth faculty in the university.
"The total number of ECU students so far is about 2,500. We care for providing high quality education than having a large number of students, which is why our classrooms are small but so many," Shihy said.
He stressed that the university deepens Egyptian-Chinese ties and enhances learning from the Chinese experience in the fields of education, scientific research and business leadership.
"China is not just a country, but it is a very big industrial and trade power. The ECU is a result of the natural approach between the oldest two civilizations in history: Egypt and China," the ex-minister told Xinhua.
Shihy said that opening the ECU is "a golden chance" because it comes at a time when the Egyptian government and political leadership attach importance to improving the education system in the country.
"The Egyptian and the Chinese presidents reiterated support for cooperation between the two countries and the ECU has very good relations with the Chinese embassy and the Chinese Cultural Center in Cairo, China's TEDA economic zone in Egypt's Suez province as well as several Chinese universities and educational institutions," he pointed out.
The ECU has cooperation deals with about five Chinese universities including Beijing Jiaotong University and Hubei University. The university chief said that the ECU has just received a delegation of Chinese universities this August and is expecting another to visit in a few days.
"We have many ECU students who have already visited China to learn about China's heritage, culture and history through some of our training courses," Shihy said, emphasizing that the ECU has close relations with the Chinese side that positively reflect on the university and the Egyptian educational system in general.
He said that the ECU is not a traditional university with specific text books but it teaches students to get their learning from the lectures and the references available in the university's digital library as an international standard for education.
"This is meant to promote teamwork environment among students and prepare them for post-graduate self-learning. This is part of the 21st century requirements needed for the labor market," said the ECU chief.
The ECU has contracts with Chinese universities teaching in English and it stipulates a reasonable command of Chinese language as one of the conditions for its students to travel to China to get a joint scientific degree.
"We had Egyptian teachers of Chinese language but we wanted Chinese native teachers, so we asked the Chinese embassy for helping us and the embassy responded and sent us two," Shihy said, noting that the Chinese language is a full-credit subject at the ECU.
The former higher education minister said that the close relations between the ECU and China are growing under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for multinational common development, through which China cares for spreading its language and culture worldwide.
"With the BRI and other Chinese initiatives, we expect stronger relations between the ECU and China," said the ECU chief.