Some 35 deans from Africa and China's leading law schools gathered for the inaugural conference on Sino-African legal education, hosted by UCT in March.
The conference was initiated by Professor Evance Kalula, former director of internationalisation and outreach in the Faculty of Law, and now director of the International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO).
The conference followed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Renmin University of China School of Law in April 2011.
The purpose of the conference was to deliberate on the reform of Sino-African legal education, and find new mechanisms for cultivating legal talents in the era of globalisation. Delegates also explored possible student and staff exchange and co-operation strategies between African and Chinese law schools.
The opening address was delivered by Professor Muna Ndulo, director of the Institute of African Development (Cornell University), who provided an in-depth analysis of the need and manner in which law schools should adapt to the changing demands posed by globalisation.
The subsequent conference deliberations were arranged around several core themes, namely: the political context of legal education in Africa and China; challenges and opportunities in the area of research; curriculum development and teaching in Africa and China; and opportunities for fostering co-operation between African and Chinese law schools.
In his concluding remarks, Professor Sandy Paterson said the conference had been intended to provide the first step towards further collaboration, but had resulted in several tangible outcomes.
Paterson took over the internationalisation portfolio in the Faculty of Law from Kalula when the latter moved to head up IAPO in January 2013.
"All participants signed a Declaration of Intent to promote several forms of tangible collaboration in the next few years. There was also an offer from Renmin University of China Law School to host the second Sino-African Law Deans' conference in 2015, and there were discussions about several exchange opportunities between individual law schools in certain substantive areas of law," said Paterson.
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