Russian language added to Central African Republic university curriculum

Central African universities will require students to study Russian language, Central African media say reported while Bangui and Moscow continue their active military and economic cooperation.

President Faustin-Archange Touadéra has ordered universities to make Russian compulsory instead of Spanish as early as next year, the Corbeau News Centrafrique news site reported on Friday.

Students will study Russian from the first year of undergraduate studies through the first and second year of postgraduate studies, which depending on the outlet is longer than studying in Spanish and Chinese.

The Central African Minister of Higher Education has reportedly pledged to complete teacher training and curriculum development in Russian by the 2022-2023 academic year.

According to Corbeau News Centrafrique, the minister is expected to visit Moscow in January to discuss sending Russian-language instructors to CAR.

The besieged country battling armed groups has forged closer ties with Russia since 2018, when Russia sent small arms and deployed instructors to help train the Central African armed forces.

CAR has also become a key point in the controversy over the role in Africa of the Wagner mercenary group allegedly led by a shadowy Kremlin-linked businessman and Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Russia has denied that Wagner’s paramilitaries were deployed to CAR, saying only military instructors were sent to train local soldiers.

Under Putin, Moscow sought to rekindle Soviet-era relations and forge new alliances in Africa, thereby strengthening Moscow’s global influence in the face of confrontation with the West.

CAR added Russian to its high school curriculum in 2019, RBC’s Russian news site reported Sunday.

Russian was already studied in the CAR under former president Jean Bedel Bokassa between 1966 and 1979.

AFP contributed to the report.

Sylvester L. Goldfarb