By Festus J. Lahai, Information Attache’
His Excellency Ambassador Mohamed Yongawo has engaged Russia Friendship University (RUDN) authorities at the University Campus in Moscow to discuss various issues including the general welfare and academic performance of Sierra Leonean students; and strengthening bilateral relations between academic institutions of Sierra Leone and Russia.
On behalf of President Bio and the People of Sierra Leone, Ambassador Yongawo thanked the Russian government and the University administration for the support they have provided to Sierra Leone citizens over the years to study Medicine and other courses.
HE Yongawo briefed Madam Efremova Larisa Ivanovna, Vice-Rector for International Cooperation and Mr. Vyacheslav Nikolaevich, Head of the Department for Africa at RUDN, of his recent meeting with the Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister of Russia, Mr. Bogdanov.
“Your University is very supportive and that is helping the Sierra Leone-Russia relation. I am very pleased with your support to our education sector which is boosting our human capital development programme”, HE Yongawo added.
Ambassador Yongawo registered appreciation to the RUDN administration for the award of the 2020- 2021 and 2021-2022 academic year scholarships to Sierra Leone students.
He however appealed to RUDN’s Vice-Rector for International Cooperation to support the quest of the mission in permitting Sierra Leonean students who have been awarded the Russian scholarship to proceed to Russia and further their studies, adding that online lectures are not enough especially for medical students who need practical learning environment.
In support of his argument, HE Yongawo explained that the COVID-19 situation in Sierra Leone was stable and that the West African nation is among the few countries that have recorded the lowest death rate, thanks to the proactive intervention of H.E President Bio, his government and the cooperation of the people of Sierra Leone.
“On behalf of President Bio and the government of Sierra Leone, I want to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the RUDN administration for taking good care of our students because since COVID-19 started a year ago none of them has fallen ill”, Ambassador Yongawo noted.
Ambassador Yongawo made a special appeal to Madam Efremova to establish an affiliation with Njala University; especially the Health Faculty and the hospital which he said can be of great benefit to both Universities.
“I have already engaged the Minister of Health and Sanitation on this and he wholeheartedly welcomed the idea. I am of the strong conviction that if RUDN taps into this particular opportunity, it will serve as a hub for the exchange of ideas where students from your University will go to Sierra Leone and those at Njala will come to RUDN”, HE Yongawo emphasised.
Madam Efremova L. Ivanovna on behalf of the University Administration, thanked the Ambassador for coming to their institution to engage them and for his good relationship with them since he took up office.
She particularly commended the Embassy for its engagement with the Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister of the Russian Federation.
“Our University always provides scholarships but gives priority to Science courses. I know education is a priority for your country which is key to our bilateral relations”, she stated.
The University Vice-Rector proposed the development of an internship program for students from Sierra Leone so that they can become familiar with the specifics of the medical services provided in their country.
In this case, students will know in advance that at the end of their studies they will be employed in the appropriate field.
The hope is that this could also create an opportunity for RUDN to understand the level of students’ training, what competencies are missing, and then refine the training program.
“Our University has provided a Special scholarship for international students and your country was given due consideration as part of our support to your citizens”, Vice-Rector Ivanovna pointed out, while assuring Ambassador Yongawo that she will inform the VC and administration to consider the ambassador’s requests knowing that expanded cooperation will strengthen the bilateral relationship.
Ambassador Yongawo and Madam Ivanovna ended on a strong expression of commitment towards youth development and empowerment through the sharing of ideas and program exchanges in different short courses.
Ambassador Yongawo was accompanied to the meeting by the Head of Chancery Mr. Dennis Nicol, Information Attaché Festus J. Lahai and the Mission Secretary Ms Daria Zenzina.