how the conflict in Ukraine transformed the school in Russia

how the conflict in Ukraine transformed the school in Russia

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It was a new school year under the sign of the “special operation”, Thursday, September 1 in Russia: the schoolchildren of the territories conquered by the Russian and pro-Russian forces in the Donbass and in the south of Ukraine are going, as Russian schoolchildren, discover new curricula, with an emphasis on the importance of teaching a version of history approved by the Kremlin, but also new courses of patriotism at school.

From our correspondent in Moscow,

Vladimir Poutine held the traditional back-to-school speech from Kaliningrad on Thursday. He then met with selected schoolchildren across the country for an hour-long Q&A. The Russian president reiterated that he had been forced to send troops to ” defend the Russian speakers of eastern Ukraine “. But he also insisted on the importance of teaching a version of history as he has always defended it:

Yesterday I spoke with Minister of Education Sergei Kravtsov. He returned from Donetsk and other territories. What he told me, excuse me, but my eyes are still wide open. School children did not even know that the Crimean Bridge existed. Yes, they didn’t even know that, they thought it was fake news! Nor did they even know that Ukraine and Russia were part of one state. That’s how we taught them history. Even adults probably don’t know that Ukraine never had its own state before the formation of theUSSR.

The Russian media echoed this. School books from the conquered territories have been sorted, and not only because it is now necessary to give schools another version of the history of Ukraine. Nina Ostanina, a communist Duma deputy and chair of its committee on family, women’s and children’s issues, explains:

Children should know the history of their homeland. We have suffered, to our great regret, for thirty years, a distortion of history by the liberal pseudo-patriots, under the pressure of the collective West, very largely under the influence of the manuals of Soros which, under the guise of charity , have been widely distributed in our schools and to our children. This distortion of history has led to the fact that a whole generation no longer has only an incomplete idea, but actually a distorted idea of ​​​​the role of the Soviet people in the formation of our country. Many, even our Russian guys, don’t know the history of the Great Patriotic War. And we don’t want our children to have the same fate as young Ukrainians, who have forgotten to whom they owe their freedom. We would not want our children and young people to suffer the same fate as in the Baltic countrieswhere monuments honoring Soviet soldiers are toppled and torn down.

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The now ubiquitous patriotism

Since February 24, the Kremlin has been pushing schools to be more patriotic. And since this Thursday, September 1, all students now start the week with a ceremony of raising the flag and singing the national anthem. One teacher, speaking anonymously, isn’t sure these measures are working:

I believe most school children will perceive this as formal procedures, which must be done in order to be left alone and to do what is really important to them. I also don’t think that such actions will be able to instill any kind of patriotism in the students. It is not something that can be regulated. You can’t force a teacher to educate patriots, you can’t force a student to be patriotic. Either it happens on its own or it doesn’t. I think that in many schools all these procedures will be observed in a purely formal way, like in the Soviet years, when it was necessary to do certain things officially in order to continue living one’s life.

However, it is also not certain that these measures will necessarily be received with indifference, on the contrary:

Such events will inevitably cause conflict. Not between teachers and administration, or students and administration, but between parents and administration. Parents have their own position, and if it does not coincide with the one that is now officially promoted, it will cause a lot of contradictions. I know that in many areas where the big cities are located, the management is aware of this problem and tries to minimize the consequences and reduce the number of conflicts that may arise. They ask to hold patriotic lesson time, but do not force anyone to go.

Backpacks for the 2022 school year for students in Moscow.
Backpacks for the 2022 school year for students in Moscow. © Anissa El Jabri/RFI

On Thursday, Vladimir Putin also chaired the board meeting of a new youth movement. A movement created by the government and inspired by the traditions of the Komsomol and the Pioneers, youth organizations of the Communist Party of the Soviet era.

Finally, at the same time, the government allocated a very large budgetary envelope – 10.5 billion rubles – dedicated to evacuees from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Prime Minister Mikhail Michoustin announced the details on Friday September 2: monthly payments of 10,000 rubles to pensioners and the disabled, the same amount for a single parent for each child, a one-time allowance for pregnant women and at the birth of a child, 5,000 rubles monthly for veterans of World War II, among others.

Since February 24, the coffers of the Russian State, already very surplus, have swelled, allowing the government a very generous policy of social aid.


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