Turkish classes prove popular in Rwanda

Turkey’s Yunus Emre Institute, in collaboration with the University of Rwanda, has begun providing Turkish courses. The classes, which started on July 5, have attracted much attention from students, according to Turkey’s envoy in Kigali, Burcu Çevik.

‘‘It was planned that the courses would be held both as face-to-face and online classes. However, due to the latest COVID-19 measures put in place in Rwanda, all classes have to be shifted to online for the time being,” Çevik said in a virtual interview.

Cevik said the commencement of the courses follows a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Yunus Emre Institute and the University of Rwanda reached sometime back. She said the institute now has an office within the university premises and a Turkish lecturer was posted in May to the university with a view to offering Turkish classes, promoting Turkish culture in Rwanda and encouraging academic cooperation between Turkish and Rwandan universities.

Çevik said that Turkey and Rwanda have already signed 20 cooperative agreements in fields ranging from education to trade and investment, adding that her country is supporting Rwanda in its endeavors to strengthen its human capital in all fields. Turkey has also been providing full scholarships for Rwandan students to come to Turkey for undergraduate and postgraduate studies. So far, more than 200 Rwandan students have benefited, the diplomat said.

Yunus Emre’s Enes Karaçoban, who teaches Turkish at the University of Rwanda, said he is excited to see the number of students applying for the course increasing. “As I speak to you now, 150 students have registered to learn Turkish,” Karaçoban said in a virtual interview from Kigali.

Karaçoban said he was thrilled to see that some of the students are from outside Rwanda. Some of the applicants are from Burundi, Mozambique, Djibouti and South Africa. He said the students will receive an introductory course of 36 hours, with the first batch of students expected to complete their courses in August.

“If all goes well after the COVID-19 restrictions, I have many promises from students who are willing to continue face to face,” he said. Karaçoban said many of those choosing to learn Turkish want to benefit from it for business communication and educational purposes. He said Rwanda is a safe country, which he believes is good for business and cultural development.

“For the last two months, I have been here in Rwanda. I had a good experience. I met different people from Rwanda who are very helpful. I got a chance to meet graduates from the government scholarship program of Turkey who have supported me since my arrival,” he added.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected education, with most in-person education becoming riskier day by day. Therefore, Turkey’s Yunus Emre Institute, which is charged with promoting the Turkish language and culture around the globe, has started to provide one-on-one language lessons to 60,000 people online using a variety of technological infrastructures.