St Petersburg University sociologists: almost 80% of residents of St Petersburg and the Leningrad Region hold a positive attitude towards cooperation with African countries
Sociologists from the Centre for Applied Sociology at St Petersburg University have conducted research to determine public attitudes towards cooperation between the Russian Federation and African countries. Over half of the research participants are aware of regular events organised by Russia to develop cooperation and partnerships with African countries. On the other hand, only 2% of the respondents have participated in such events.
Experts from the Centre for Applied Sociology at St Petersburg University have conducted a telephone survey of 900 residents of St Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, one third of whom had visited any country in Africa at least once in their lives. Three quarters of the survey participants have expressed a positive attitude to the development of cooperation between the Russian Federation and African states, considering that international economic cooperation and trade are the key focus areas of international relations. Thus, the majority of the respondents believe that Russia’s cooperation with African nations is economically beneficial.
Over 70% of the respondents also noted that cooperation in higher education helps in establishing a positive image of Russia in the international arena. Today, St Petersburg University offers over ten academic programmes with a focus on the language, history, culture, economics and politics of Asian and African countries: Languages and Culture of East Africa: Ethiopian Studies; Asian and African History (with Asian/African language tuition); Asian and African Cultures (with Asian/African language tuition); Asian and African Literatures (with Asian/African language tuition); Politics and International Relations in Asia and Africa (with Asian/African language tuition); Asian and African Religions (with Asian/African language tuition); The Socio-Cultural Anthropology of the Peoples of Asia and Africa (with Asian and African Language Tuition); Asian and African Economies and International Economic Relations (with Asian/African language tuition); and Asian and African Languages to name but a few.
According to the survey participants, the main areas of support provided by the Russian Federation to African states are humanitarian aid and assistance in education and economic development. In terms of providing assistance to the child population in need, the main focus is access to healthcare. Almost equal percentages of the respondents believe that Russia’s efforts directed at providing access to education for African children, protecting their rights and interests, and ensuring food security are fully justified.
‘We have found out that 85% of the participants have no first-hand experience in helping people from Africa. At the same time, every third respondent is willing to participate in humanitarian assistance to the people of African countries. Importantly, however, the residents of St Petersburg and the Leningrad Region need to know exactly where the aid is going. The preferred forms of assistance are: cash donations or a service trip to one of the African states as a specialist or consultant. One third of the survey participants are willing to volunteer and contribute by doing some work for free,’ explained Maksim Kuzminov, a leading sociologist at the Centre for Applied Sociology at St Petersburg University.
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