by Olatunji Saliu
ABUJA, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- Dozens of Nigerian secondary school students in colorful clothes beat drums and sang songs on Friday to celebrate the reopening of a remodeled Chinese learning center in their school.
The Chinese Center in the Junior Secondary School (JSS) Garki Area 11, Abuja, was upgraded by the China Railway 18th Bureau Group, a Chinese construction firm, to better promote understanding between the two countries at the grassroot level.
For most of these young students aged between 11 and 15, the Chinese Center in their school gives them an opportunity to learn about China, its people and culture.
"I feel that our learning and academics will be inspired," Benedicta Edu, a grade-3 student of the school, told Xinhua. "If I have the opportunity, I would love to travel and learn more about their (Chinese) culture. I will like to learn more about their language and their books."
Built in 2008, the Chinese Center in the JSS Garki Area 11 was established to provide local people with an opportunity to learn the Chinese language and culture.
After years of operation, the center needed to be refurbished and upgraded.
"I want to say a very big thank you to the Chinese people that upgraded this center, and I feel very happy that they have upgraded this place. I feel that they have done a good job by doing this," said Daniel Oghene, another grade-3 student.
For Oghene, the renovated center, equipped with modern workstations, a large multimedia screen, ceiling fans, and bookshelves, will help him to learn more about the Chinese language and culture.
Alhassan Sule, acting head of the Universal Basic Education Board in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), said the longstanding bilateral relations between Nigeria and China have been immensely beneficial to the FCT education authority.
Sule said the local education administrators were thankful for the upgrading of the Chinese center and would continue to ensure the maintenance and security of the "facilities put in place, so as to maximize their benefits to our teachers and students for a reasonable period of time."
Noting the center served the purpose of enhancing the educational exchanges between the two countries, Zhang Yi, minister counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria, said China would continue to support and prioritize the development of local schools in the most populous African country.
"Education is the foundation of social progress and national development, therefore educational exchanges between China and Nigeria are the Chinese embassy's priority," Zhang added.