Ali Arqam, a 19-year-old Pakistani student, participated in an international small robot mouse maze-solving competition held in north China's Tianjin Municipality earlier this month and obtained good results.
Ali studies at the Pakistan Luban Workshop, majoring in electric automation technology.
It is worthy of note that in this year's competition, many participants were from the Luban Workshops across the world.
"I've learned a lot at the workshop and will pass on the knowledge to more local people after graduation," Ali said.
The establishment of Pakistan Luban Workshop is a vocational education cooperation program between China and Pakistan.
Named after Lu Ban, an ancient and great Chinese woodcraft master and inventor, the workshop aims at improving academic education of top technical talents and serving the local economy and society via vocational training.
EDUCATIONAL COOPERATION FOSTERS TALENTS
After the conclusion of the First Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing in 2017, a delegation of Pakistan's largest province Punjab headed to Tianjin and signed an agreement with the coastal municipality to cooperate on vocational education.
In July 2018, Tianjin Modern Vocational Technology College and Punjab's Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority co-founded the Pakistan Luban Workshop in Punjab. The workshop offers courses such as new energy vehicles and electromechanical integration technology.
Ali was among the first batch of students recruited by the workshop. "The learning process is so much fun, just like playing toys," he said, adding he was impressed by the advanced training facilities of the workshop.
Apart from the workshop in Pakistan, eight Luban Workshops have been set up in Asia, Africa and Europe since 2016, training more than 4,000 students and about 600 teachers.
"The workshop doesn't teach local students directly but trains local teachers at first. This is a bridge connecting China's vocational education with the world," said Lyu Jingquan, deputy director of Tianjin Municipal Education Commission.
In addition, the Punjab Tianjin University of Technology (PTUT) featuring vocational education was established in 2018, by three Tianjin universities and a vocational education training organization of Punjab. With nearly 500 students, PTUT offers seven specialties including mechanical engineering, automotive engineering, electrical engineering, electric engineering, fashion design and architecture.
"The students show great interest in our courses and are able to quickly acclimate to the new teaching methods," said Zhao Wei, a teacher from Tianjin University of Technology and Education, who's now teaching at PTUT.
VOCATIONAL EDUCATION BOOSTS DEVELOPMENT
Of the nearly 200 million people in Pakistan, people aged between 16 and 30 accounts for about 60 percent of the entire population.
"We have a large number of young people, who need to be trained to master a skill, which could help them secure a job," said Muhammad Asif, the academic dean with PTUT.
Asif believed that professional and technical personnel have played an important role in China's economic development and helped China achieve great prosperity. The government of Punjab hopes to promote vocational education, cultivate highly skilled labor force, and increase youth employment, by learning from China's experience.
"Punjab attempts to improve employment through enhancing vocational education, while we also want to foster more talents for both Pakistani and Chinese enterprises along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)," said Liu Xin, president of Tianjin University of Technology and Education.
Pakistan hopes to learn from China's experience of vocational education development to stimulate the development of the CPEC, according to Syed Javed Hassan, Chairman of Pakistan National Vocational and Technical Training Commission.
After over five years of construction, CPEC has yielded fruitful achievements, creating more than 75,000 jobs for Pakistan.
Aside from vocational education cooperation, China and Pakistan have a wider range of cooperation in education.
Statistics showed around 2,500 students from Pakistan went to study in China in 2017, and the number of Pakistani students in China stands at 22,000 as of May 2019.
Shah Syed Hidayat, 33, from Peshawar, came to China in 2018 to study mechanical engineering. He said he could receive high-quality education and learn Chinese, which will be of great benefit to his employment in Pakistan in the future.
Hidayat's alumnus Khan Kamran, 29, from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, majors in electrical engineering. He said electronic information and civil engineering are very popular in Pakistan, and this was why he came to China.
Meanwhile, various short-term training provided by China has become very popular in Pakistan.
In 2015, a group of Pakistani medical staff received a four-week training in a Tianjin hospital, including nursing management, emergency medicine, critical care, and cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases care.