With great surprise and disappointment, I have read the article ?What?s wrong with HIV positive? published by ?Below the Belt? columnist in The Sunday Standard (March 25-31, 2007).
To my regret, this article misrepresented completely the contribution which the USSR and then Russia have made to the training of national highly qualified personnel for the states of the African continent.
As the author of the article should know, after independence, thousands of Africans studied in the USSR and, now, in Russia. At present, many of them occupy leading positions in government, parliament, army and business. They are working as engineers, doctors, teachers, lawyers. Suffice to say that among the graduates of Russian universities are the leaders of a number of Southern African countries ? Mozambique, Namibia and the Republic of South Africa. I would like to remind the writer that a prominent citizen, political guru and highly esteemed person in Botswana, the late Dr K.?Koma, was trained in the Soviet Union.
Russia continues this tradition. Annually, Russian government grants to African countries exceed more than 800 scholarships for studying in our national universities. Besides, in accordance with the agreement with SADC, my country grants annually to the member-states of the Organization 14 scholarships ? one of them for Botswana.
The Russian Federation continues to be one of the world?s most recognized leaders in the field of tertiary education, which is a complete system, consisting of more than 600 state universities and specialized institutions with around 5 million people studying there.
Russian university education gives students a unique chance to choose from more than 500 specialties which are in great demand all over the world. Among them are medicine, engineering, economics, management, political science, computer sciences, information technologies and others.
The Russian tertiary education system also gives students the chance to get acquainted with the achievements of world science, to establish ties and contacts with the best specialists from many countries of the world.
The person who has arrived in Russia to study will not feel himself lonely ? more than 100 thousand foreign students from more than 200 countries of the world study at the leading universities and institutions of the country. At present around one hundred young people from Botswana study in Russian universities.
As far as Russian language is concerned, it is one of the official languages of the United Nations and more than 300 million people all around the world speak Russian; it is the language of the great writers, poets, scientists, painters and musicians.
I do hope that the publication of my letter in your newspaper will give the readers a clear and more objective perception of Russia?s real contribution to cooperation with African countries in the sphere of education.
Igor S. Liakin-Frolov