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Ambassador's Speeches


Gaborone                                                                                            May 14, 2007

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

It is a pleasant privilege for me as a newcomer to Botswana to speak at such an important event – opening of the Study in Russia exhibition.

I would like to use this opportunity to mention that it is an interesting challenge to work in Botswana – the country with which Russia enjoys excellent political relations and which has gained great respect internationally for its achievements in economic, social, environmental development and in particular in the field of education, like the praised universal primary education scheme, realized in Botswana.

On the other hand, it is well known, that other development programmes, the task of diversification of the economy require already new a great number of trained skilled specialists in many fields. And this demand will increase even more in the years to come.

I have no doubt that in due course, when all the universities, schools and colleges planned for this country are fully operational, Botswana will be able to export educational services to other countries, like it is doing now with diamonds, and in a few years will export electricity.

In the meantime countries like Russia can provide Botswana with a good opportunity to train within a few years hundreds of highly qualified doctors, engineers, teachers and so on. As far as Russia is concerned, we have a list of over 500 specialties that you can get training for from mining engineers down beneath the earth to pilots and space researchers high in the skies!

Because of the transitional period from the former Soviet Union to the Russian Federation in the 90s, it is not easy for me to give precise figure of how many graduates from foreign countries have been trained in Russia so far, but there are tens of thousands of them, especially from Africa, Asia and Latin America.

I am glad to state that we already have a very positive experience in our bilateral cooperation with Botswana in the field of education. About a hundred Batswana are studying in Russia at present.

As of recent, let us speak about the last 3 years, Russian government is providing Botswana with 5 governmental scholarships. Every year, in addition, 14 university level scholarships are given to SADC, that is one for each country. So altogether Batswana gets 6 scholarships. Via RACUS some 25 more students from Botswana also get to Russian Universities annually. This is not much if we consider the demand.

I am confident that the numbers of both governments’ sponsored students and private students would increase if Russia is finally placed on the list of counties where Botswana is sending its students on government scholarships. This would definitely increase the scope of contacts and cooperation in the field of education and science in general.

Before this placement becomes reality, we are trying to increase the number of intake to Russian schools of higher learning form Botswana on private basis.

For those potential students and their parents that have not yet decided what to do and where to go. I have the following message. I was pleased to hear not back in Moscow, but here on several occasions from impartial sources (residents and guests from India and Namibia) that university education in Russia is the best in the entire world, considering the most objective quality and cost ratio. So the message reads: only in Russia you can get such a good level of education at such a low cost.

As for misconceptions, they still exist but can be dealt with, so to say. Most often we hear that it is too cold in Russia. But I can respond that although I have been to Africa before (Nigeria, Ghana), I haven’t thought that it can be as cold as in Botswana in winter: only the snow is missing! On a more serious note I have personal experience in the Murmansk Region (to the North from the Artic Circle) that students from Africa and Asia quickly get accustomed to the generally healthy continental climate.

As for crime rate – it is lower than the international average.

Last but not least – we can sometimes hear concerns about necessity to learn the Russian language if you want to go to Russia to study.

First – in some of the most popular specialties you can get training in English. Secondly, Russian is not among the most difficult languages, far easier to learn than, for example, Japanese, Arabic or Chinese. But the efforts to learn Russian will provide a student with a real opportunity to befriend Russian people, to understand not only the lectures, but also the rich Russian culture, arts and world famous literature. He or she can use then one of the official United Nations languages.

I am pleased to mention that the year 2007 is proclaimed internationally as the year of the Russian language. Many events (festivals, concerts, seminars and special exhibitions) are been organized around the world. We at the Embassy are studying the possibility of introducing teaching of Russian also in Botswana.

Finally, I want to thank the organizers of the exhibition – the Russian-African Centre of University Services and Larissa Knestiukova in person for the valuable services they provide and to wish good luck to all the aspiring youth in your future studies, whatever your choice will be.

Thank you for your attention.