The introduction of Turkish language courses has been met with great interest in the East African nation of Rwanda, where classes started this month, according to a Turkish diplomat.

Turkey’s envoy in Kigali, Burcu Cevik, told Anadolu Agency in an interview that the Yunus Emre Institute started teaching Turkish language courses at the University of Rwanda on July 5, attracting many applicants.

‘‘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,” Cevik said in a virtual interview.

Cevik said the commencement of the courses follows a cooperation 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.

Yunus Emre’s Enes Karacoban, 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,” Karacoban said in a virtual interview from Kigali.

Karacoban 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, but Turkish classes will continue with new groups.

The Yunus Emre Institute is also planning to conduct Turkish cultural events in Kigali in the coming months.

“If all goes well after the COVID-19 restrictions, I have many promises from students who are willing to follow classes through face to face,” he said.

Karacoban 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 supported me since my arrival,” he added.

Cevik said Turkey and Rwanda have already signed 20 cooperative agreements in fields ranging from education to trade and investment, adding Turkey is supporting Rwanda in its endeavors to strengthen its human capital in all fields.

Turkey has also been providing full scholarships to Rwandan students for undergraduate and postgraduate studies in the country. So far, more than 200 Rwandan students have benefited, the diplomat said.

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