Ethiopian Filmon Teklehaimanot Teklemariam experienced a homecoming of sorts when he returned to Tianjin Railway Technical and Vocational College recently to participate in a special training program to study high-speed rail technologies.
He couldn't help expressing his appreciation to his Chinese teachers for advancing his skills — for the second time.
As the director of the operation and control center of the Ethio-Djibouti Railway, Teklemariam was one of the 35 highly skilled staff members selected to participate in the second round of the training program in Tianjin. He studied railway technology at the college nine years ago.
The school hosted two rounds of the program this year — the first from Aug 8 to Sept 7, and the second from Oct 8 to Nov 7.
It was organized by the college with the aim of enhancing the quality of management and operation of the railway, as well as promoting the sustainable development of the Luban Workshops in Djibouti.
Named after Lu Ban, an ancient Chinese woodcraft master, these workshops have gained popularity in recent years as the Chinese government has taken the initiative to foster international cooperation in vocational education.
In addition to strengthening exchanges and cooperation between China, Ethiopia and Djibouti, the program also aimed to share the significant achievements China has made in vocational and technological training with these two African countries.
Developed under the Belt and Road Initiative, the Ethio-Djibouti Railway is a landmark project in Africa's railway network.
It became the first electric railway constructed in accordance with Chinese railway standards in Africa.
Zhang Wenjin, deputy Party chief of the China Civil Engineering Construction Corp under the China Railway Construction Corp, noted that after construction of the railway, which occurred from 2012 to 2018, the company continued to operate and maintain it. In September this year, operations were handed over to the governments of the two African countries.
During the closing ceremony on Nov 7, Abdi Zenebe Meskela, CEO of the railway, emphasized that the railway industry in Ethiopia and Djibouti is "on the verge of a critical evolution stage".
He praised the tailored training program in Tianjin, which effectively covered specific matters related to the administration and operation of all railway departments.
Meskela also lauded "the college's efforts to support theoretical lectures with practical field visits, providing trainees with valuable hands-on experience".
As he hailed the training program, Tefera Derbew Yimam, Ethiopia's ambassador to China, quoted an old Chinese saying: "If you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a century, educate people."
Yimam added that the program is an important aspect of the All-Weather Strategic Partnership between China and Ethiopia.
To date, 27 Luban Workshops have been established in 25 countries, with the majority of them taking place in the developing world. Of those 27, 12 have been set up in 11 African countries.
Tianjin Railway Technical and Vocational College itself has established two workshops in Djibouti and Nigeria, and another one is being set up in Ethiopia.