Russia university introduces African languages, Yoruba inclusive

Starting this year, the Russian government has said that the teaching of three major African languages will commence in a few Moscow schools as part of efforts to strengthen links with the continent.

According to Alexei Maslow, director of the Institute of Asian and African Studies at Lomonosov Moscow State University, these languages will be taught in four schools yet to be disclosed, starting from September 2023. The languages include Swahili, which is widely spoken in Eastern Africa, Amharic, and Yoruba, which are spoken in Nigeria and neighboring countries.

This is coming in light of the growing international isolation Russia is facing as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian news source Sputnik reported last week that the African languages will be taught as a part of a special program of the IAAS-MSU and is intended to help foster deeper links with the continent.

This announcement was made at a Sputnik international roundtable on Russia-Africa relations that was attended by academics from universities in the two countries and focused on “prospects for economic cooperation. If implemented, the decision will make Russia the first nation in Europe to offer African languages in public schools

According to the Study in Russia organization Racus, over 100,000 African students have indicated interest in studying there, and about 30,000 of them are currently signed up in Russian universities. In recent years, the nation has increased its recruitment efforts, utilizing affordability and quality as the selling point. Russia gets $110m yearly as tuition from 22,000 African students.

The cooperation between Russia and Africa in the field of education is even said to be “at a traditionally high level,” according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who also noted that 5,000 of the 27,000 African students studying there are being supported by his government through scholarships.

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