The Russian language brings Russia and Africa closer together

Russia and the countries of the African continent are actively expanding cooperation in all areas, paying special attention to initiatives in the field of education. This helps strengthen the bilateral dialogue between Russia and African countries. It is important to note that the interest in studying Russian is increasing in African countries with students being sent to Russian universities, participating in educational projects, and developing new forms of cooperation in the humanitarian sphere.

On June 6, Russia will celebrate a significant date - 225 years since the birth of the writer Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin. Pushkin is a key figure in Russian culture and the founder of the Russian literary language. The passion for the work of a writer with African roots unites the continents and motivates Africans to learn Russian.

St Petersburg University is successfully promoting the Russian language on the African continent and, starting from 2021, is actively expanding the geography of distance Russian as a foreign language courses starting from 2021. There are already thirteen African countries studying Russian together with the oldest University of Russia.

In the year 2021, St Petersburg University became the first institution in Africa to actively promote the Russian language by providing distance courses in Russian as a foreign language to 50 students. In 2023, the number of distance learning participants in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Algeria, Niger, Gambia, Tunisia, and Egypt surpassed a record high of more than 2,600. Advanced courses were launched for 280 students. In 2024, the University is expanding the geography of distance learning courses in Russian as a foreign language; residents of Burkina Faso, Zambia, Senegal and Mauritius have joined the training, and the number of students has exceeded 1,600.

A significant increase in the number of course participants and an expansion of the list of countries learning Russian is not the only merit of St Petersburg University. In 2023, the first face-to-face center was launched in Tanzania with grant support from the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation, which is still functioning at the expense of the University. This project is special largely because Russian as a foreign language is taught to Tanzanians on a full-time basis at the Center.

The Russian language training continues this academic year. The University has already initiated enrollment for training and is now accepting applications. Applications can be submitted either through mail or on the website dedicated to the Russian language on the African continent.

In addition to teaching the Russian language, the Center organizes additional events where Tanzanians get acquainted with the geography, culture and history of Russia, folk games and dances, try national cuisine and tea from a traditional Russian samovar, and also learn about Russian education, in particular at St Petersburg University. Such events are paying off because, at the moment, about 29,000 people from African countries are studying in the main and additional programs of St Petersburg University because Russian culture torches you deeply if you have experienced it at least once.

In 2023, University employees organized a series of face-to-face events in Russian in Tanzania. The program of events included open lectures, quizzes, round tables, master classes, seminars, tea parties, and games. The meetings were addressed not only to teachers of Russian as a foreign language, but also to everyone who is interested in Russia, its history, geography, language, literature and, of course, the education system.

Aside from the events, additional education courses were held to improve professional skills of Russian language teachers. As part of the Center's work, St Petersburg University conducted a full-time advanced training course for Russian specialists in Tanzania. Around 30 people came from different cities of the country to receive training from university experts and to gain an understanding of the latest trends in teaching Russian as a foreign language.

St Petersburg University is dedicated to developing its in-person activities on the African continent. Through qualified teachers, African residents will be able to learn Russian and receive information about educational and career opportunities in Russia. The University intends to create a whole network of Russian Language Centers in various African countries. In the near future, new face-to-face Centers will begin functioning in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mozambique, Zambia, Uganda, South Africa, Equatorial Guinea, and Ethiopia.

Tanzania is a special country for St Petersburg University. At the University, not only do Tanzanians acquire knowledge in Russian, but also Russian students study the culture and language of Tanzania – Swahili, and they are delighted to visit this remarkable nation. University teachers greatly appreciate the talent of Tanzanians in learning the Russian language and are speaking of them with great warmth. Furthermore, St Petersburg University is currently in the process of preparing a unique translation of the Russian language textbook into Swahili for Tanzanian students!