Life has become a success story for a young man from Côte d’Ivoire. As a child, he used to help his family on corn plantations. Some 15 years later, he is a PhD student at St. Petersburg Mining University who got a chance to shake hands with a Nobel laureate in physics.
Iv Bertrand Kofi Kablan finished school in 2011 and wanted to pursue higher education. However, he could not enter a university in his home country since all educational institutions had been closed as a consequence of the local crisis evolving into a civil war. Then Iv decided to talk to his older brother who was at the time a student at the Mining University. Iv also spoke to the parents and made up his mind – he would take chances on a Russian university.
However, as the Mining University’s student admits, he did not manage to enter a Russian university on the first try. There were too many applicants that year. Understandably, competition among those willing to get free education and study in one of the Russian universities is high. Rossotrudnichestvo, the Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation, is an organization responsible for promoting Russian education services abroad. Under a quota system administered by Rossotrudnichestvo, last year 1,380 Ivorian school graduates applied for tuition-free education in Russia. Only 56 of them became students though.
Iv Bertrand says, “I ended up in the Charles-Louis Montesquieu University, where I had studied for a year before I realized I was not ready to give up on my dream. I wanted to study in Russia, and luckily I got accepted to the Mining University. I became a student at the Faculty of Oil & Gas Engineering, but I had to pay for my studies. Four years later, I finally managed to enter a Master’s program under a quota, which means I was studying for free. Now I am a PhD student, and I am studying organizational management at the Faculty of Economics. It might seem a big change, but I wanted to expand my area of expertise, that is why I decided to change the faculty this time.“
Last summer, seven years after moving to Russia, Iv went home for the holidays.
As the PhD student recalls, “I remember myself arriving home, and in an instant, I got surrounded by relatives and friends. They all wanted to ask me about the university, my studies,and career prospects.”
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, Iv, like many other students all across the globe, cannot be physically present at the university campus and has to write his thesis remotely. The paper’s focus is on the economic development of Ivorian oil & gas industry and cooperation between Côte d’Ivoire and Russia in mineral extraction.