Opening the meeting, the First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Ivan Melnikov
Ivan Ivanovich recalled that hundreds of thousands of specialists and skilled workers in African countries studied in the USSR.
“Starting from the 90s, there was a period when such successful cooperation became a thing of the past. Then gradually some traditions were restored. Over the past 13 years, the number of African students studying in Russia has tripled. At the same time, all these indicators should be taken only as a basis,” stressed Ivan Melnikov.
According to the First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma, for successful development and the future, it is necessary “to discard any inertia and gradualism, think strategically and talk about the present and the future, about impulses that can reach a new quality, a new level of cooperation.”
“It is important to build everything on a trusting and mutually beneficial basis. This is what fundamentally distinguishes Russia's approach to cooperation with our African friends from those formats, not always obvious forms of exploitation of the continent,” emphasized Ivan Melnikov.
In turbulent conditions, when the balance of power is changing, Africa has the opportunity to become stronger, get rid of certain types of labor exploitation of in the research field, as commercial profit is received by the Western countries, according to the First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma.
“African colleagues are treating our country very decently: practically not a single African country, despite the enormous pressure, introduced the economic sanctions against Russia. We should offer Africa something new, something special, because modern Africa is a tasty morsel for both old and new players,” said Irina Abramova, director of the Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Sovereignty is very important both for Russia and African countries, and not only political, but also economic sovereignty, as the expert believes. “Economic sovereignty cannot be achieved without progress in science and education technologies. I think that Russia should focus on these areas in cooperation with Africa,” added Irina Abramova.
Director of the Institute of African and Russian Studies of the Moscow State University Alexey Maslov supports the point of view that science and education are the main areas of cooperation between Russia and the countries of the African continent. “Education gives a completely different, free form of thinking. Therefore, it is important for both us and our African colleagues to overcome the post-colonial syndrome, when we were guided by other people's standards and approaches,” added Alexey Maslov.
The training of new specialists for African studies who are able to understand the mentality and study the languages of the continent is becoming more popular in Russia: for example, in a number of secondary schools in Russia, Swahili and Amharic are being taught as additional languages, according to Alexey Maslov.
According to Konstantin Mogilevsky, Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, almost 35,000 students from Africa are currently studying in Russian universities, more than a third of them are from Egypt. “We want our education to be even more affordable for African students,” he stressed.
In accordance with the admission plan for the 2021–2022 academic year, 2,100 are reserved for students from African countries, last year there were 2,300 quota places, and there will be 4,700 for the upcoming 2023–2024 academic year, according to the Deputy Minister.
The Ministry of Education and Science also plans to rename the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia in honor of the Congolese politician Patrice Lumumba, as it was called before, as said the Deputy Minister. According to him, 992 people from African countries became the students of the university in 2022–2023. 2198 students from those countries are studying full-time.
“We attach great importance to the contribution that RUDN University makes to the development of Russian-African educational cooperation. Over the years, the number of students from African countries graduating from RUDN University has amounted to more than 14 thousand people, including two presidents, one prime minister and 15 ministers,” said Konstantin Mogilevsky.
The First Deputy Minister of Education of the Russian Federation Alexander Bugaev spoke about cooperation with African countries on the issues of opening branches of Russian educational organizations of secondary professional education. “There is such a request from our partners from the African continent, and we are ready to do it,” he stressed.
To promote the Russian language in Africa, the Ministry of Education is working on the project “Russian teacher in a foreign state”. The Russian specialists made it possible to establish close ties, and there are prospects for making this programme successful on the African continent, according to Alexander Bugaev.
“Studying the Russian language is also a way for our cultures to converge. And we attach great importance to work with our children's organizations. As part of the activities of our centers, such as Orlyonok, Smena, Okean, we are always glad to see our partners from African countries there,” added the First Deputy Minister of Education.
The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of the Parliament of Madagascar, head of the delegation Honoré Rasolonjatovo thanked his colleagues representing the Russian Parliament for the initiative to hold such Conference and for choosing a topic for discussion.
“We are directly interested in the development of legislation and regulations that would allow us to finance well both education and science. And from our point of view, the budget allocations, that are spent now, are insufficient,” Honoré Rasolonjatovo said and mentioned the situation in his country.
March 2023, the State Duma hosts the Second International Parliamentary
Conference “Russia – Africa” in Moscow.
More than 40 official parliamentary delegations from almost all African countries will take part in the Conference. Representatives of the scientific, educational and expert communities from Russia and African countries, members of the State Duma, federal executive authorities, senators of the Federation Council, chairmen of the legislative bodies of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, representatives of the business community will also take part in the events of the Conference.
The objectives of the Conference are to strengthen parliamentary cooperation with African countries in the conditions of formation of a multipolar world, to develop relations and develop common approaches to legal regulation in the economy, science and education and security.
On March 19, on the first day of the Conference, there will be held the following round tables:
- Parliamentary Support of Scientific and Educational Cooperation
- Legislative Response to Economic Challenges
- Indivisible Security: Capabilities and Contributions of Parliaments
- Neocolonialism of the West: How to Prevent the Repetition of History.
On March 19, there will be also held a business breakfast with participation of the parliamentary delegations of African states and Russian business representatives.
On March 20, there will be held a plenary session of the International Parliamentary Conference entitled “Russia-Africa in the multipolar world”.
As part of the events of the Conference, the Chairman of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin
Vyacheslav Victorovich The Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation of the eighth convocation. Elected in single mandate constituency № 163 (Saratov constituency - Saratov Oblast) will hold bilateral meetings with several heads of delegations, speakers of parliaments and chambers of parliaments of African countries.
The Conference is planned to be held just few months before the Second Russia-Africa Summit, which is planned to be held on July 2023 in Saint Petersburg.
The First International Conference “Russia – Africa” was held in Moscow in 2019.