Russia university introduces Yoruba language, others to curb international isolation
Starting this year, the Russian government will begin teaching three major African languages in a few Moscow schools as part of efforts to strengthen links with the continent.
This is coming in light of the growing international isolation Russia is experiencing as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.
According to Alexei Maslow, director of the Institute of Asian and African Studies at Lomonosov Moscow State University, the languages will be taught in four yet-to-be-disclosed schools starting in September 2023. The languages include Swahili, which is widely spoken in Eastern Africa, Amharic, and Yoruba, which are spoken in Nigeria and neighbouring countries.
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 assist create deeper links with the continent.
The 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 language instruction in public schools.
What they said
This news brought excitement in some circles in both Russia and Africa, with the Russian embassy in Uganda happily tweeting the news.
- “Starting this September, students from four schools in Moscow will begin learning African languages – Swahili, Amharic and Yoruba”, it announced.
- “An abrupt turn to Africa requires a completely different type of specialists who could work directly with the economy and with modern political and economic elites, and most importantly, would realise that Africa is not just one big continent, but, a patchwork of diverse national, ethnic, religious and linguistic traditions,” Maslov said at the event
- “An abrupt turn to Africa requires a completely different type of specialist”
The selection of the languages
One of the most widely used languages in Africa, Swahili, also known as Kiswahili, is spoken largely in the East African nations of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The language is spoken by more than 200 million people. It is the official tongue of Kenya and Tanzania, and the African Union has adopted it as their common language.
Yoruba, on the other hand, is primarily spoken in Nigeria, Benin, and Togo in West Africa, where over 50 million people do. Over 50 million people speak Amharic in the nations of Ethiopia and Eritrea.
According to the Study in Russia organization Racus, over 100,000 African students have expressed interest in studying there, and about 30,000 of them are currently enrolled 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. (Nairametrics)