Julia White Grace |
Nairobi EFE).- The kings of Spain, Felipe VI and Letizia, will attend an act of the first university in Africa with an “iberophone” vocation on their state trip to Angola, which will give “visibility” to the global union of the Portuguese and Spanish speaking countries, according to the Ibero-American University Foundation (Funiber).
The trip of the monarchs, who will visit the African country between Monday and Wednesday, “will be an impulse to give visibility to the union of this group of countries”, which brings together more than 860 million people in the world and constitutes the first linguistic block on the planet, says Santos Gracia Villar, president of the foundation, in a telematic interview with EFE from Angola.
“Our goal has always been to work on the global space of Iberophony, which includes not only Ibero-American countries but also African countries where Spanish and Portuguese are spoken,” says Gracia Villar from the campus of the Universidade Internacional do Cuanza (UNIC), created by Funiber in the city of Cuito (downtown).
“There are no two linguistic blocks that have such a great mutual understanding,” he stresses, insisting that it is not only a language union, but also a cultural one.
Felipe VI and Queen Letizia will attend a UNIC presentation on Tuesday at the headquarters of the Economic Bank of Angola in Luanda, the country’s capital.
They will also inaugurate there an exhibition by the Spanish painter Joan Miró, entitled “The song of the sun and acrostatic wonders” and organized by Funiber with the support of Angolan and Spanish institutions.
The foundation hopes that this gesture by the kings will favor “greater support from the Angolan authorities” for the UNIC project, with the “official approval of new degrees”.
UNIC is one of the universities established by Funiber, which has other centers in Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Spain and, soon, the Dominican Republic.
This foundation, created in 1997 in Barcelona (Spain), also collaborates with an extensive network of universities in more than thirty countries to promote distance study programs and has an extensive scholarship system that aims to “democratize access to higher education”, highlights its president.
“Our social function is that everyone has equal access: a person who lives in a small town in Angola, one who lives in Madrid or one who lives in Mexico City,” he stresses.
Imagine an “Iberophone Erasmus”
To materialize this objective, the foundation opened the UNIC in October 2021, which was inaugurated by the Angolan president, João Lourenço, in Cuito, a city more than 700 kilometers by road southeast of Luanda.
According to Gracia Villar, “the project consists of creating a university with the same standards that we have in Spain in the heart of Angola.”
One of the particularities of this center, which has both Angolan teachers and professors from different Ibero-American countries, Spain and Mozambique, is that, although the vehicular language is Portuguese, the students of all the degrees study Spanish.
In this way, and by developing very similar study plans, Funiber hopes to promote mobility in a “natural way” between Europe, Latin America and Africa and ensure that UNIC students can obtain recognized degrees in both Spain and Angola.
“You have to imagine an Iberophone Erasmus program,” explains the president of Funiber, taking as an example the famous system that has facilitated academic mobility in Europe for decades.
Language as an economic engine
Through the studies offered by this university, Funiber wants to contribute to “forming good human capital in Angola and helping Spanish companies or companies from other countries to want to invest” in the African country.
In addition to Angola, Funiber develops academic and cultural activities in other African countries, including Gabon, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Morocco, Mali and Senegal.
The trip of Felipe VI and Queen Letizia comes less than two years after the Angolan president’s state visit to Spain in September 2021, during which Lourenço was received by the king.
The monarch then gave Lourenço his “warmest welcome to Spain, which always receives Angolans as part of the world of Iberophony, in which all of us who speak Spanish or Portuguese are inserted.”