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Students at the Luban Workshop founded by the Tianjin University of Technology in Côte d'Ivoire test new facilities at a laboratory. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Tianjin had set up 10 Luban Workshops in Africa by the end of 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, aiming to provide vocational training to young people.
The workshop effort is part of an initiative launched at the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. Tianjin, as a city with many leading vocational universities in China and which established some 10 Luban workshops overseas, was assigned the important task.
In 2019, four workshops were unveiled in Djibouti, Kenya, South Africa and Mali by the city's leading vocational universities and colleges.
In 2020, another six such workshops were founded - one each in Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Uganda and Madagascar, and two in Egypt.
Cao Xiaohong, Tianjin's vice-mayor, said: "The pandemic has never become a barrier for technological and educational cooperation, and the Luban Workshop has bridged China and the world."
Before 2020, Tianjin sent leading faculty members to destination countries to teach local teachers and students and help set up the workshop with state-of-the-art facilities.
Despite the pandemic, the city transported facilities on time and gave online lectures and training courses to teachers and students in African countries.
Zhang Jinguo, vice-president of the Tianjin Sino-German University of Applied Sciences which established the Nigerian Luban Workshop, said: "Many teachers provided online tutoring guides for leading laboratories and helped test the equipment online. They often work until dawn."
Abdul-Rasheed Na'Allah, president of the University of Abuja, said: "The workshop has not only helped the university rank top in vocational education training in Nigeria, but also helped it rank among the world-leading universities."
Hassan Mohamed, deputy general manager of the Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway, said in a previous interview the Luban Workshop will provide strong support for high-quality technical skills training, consequently improving the capacity of railway staff to better perform their work.
At the heart of the Luban Workshop project is technical training to develop skilled professionals.
The workshop was named after China's great craftsman and inventor Lu Ban, who lived during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC).
He was famous for creating numerous carpentry tools and is revered as China's master craftsman.