Since the beginning of a full-scale war in Ukraine, the Russian authorities have taken up the regulation of state education. Some teachers tried to defend the right not to impose ideology on students, but after the intervention of officials, this stopped.
“Paper” found that more and more parents are withdrawing their children from public schools, and teachers often complain about propaganda and raising money for the war. While Z-actions are being carried out in some St. Petersburg schools, anti-war educators are changing the topics of “Conversations about the Important”, where they should talk about politics.
Read what “patriotic” actions were carried out in St. Petersburg schools, what “Conversations about the Important” is devoted to, and how public education has changed in other ways.
February 25 Russian teachers created petition “Teachers Against War” – by March 4 signed 5 thousand people. “The invasion of the territory of Ukraine began on behalf of Russian citizens, but against our will. We are teachers, and violence goes against the very nature of our profession. Our students will perish in the heat of war,” said in circulation.
One of the authors of the petition Ilya Menshikov told Meduza that after the publication of the open appeal, it quickly spread in the chats of teachers. According to the authors of the petition, people had a need to speak out and show their position.
When Russia announced a law on administrative responsibility for “discrediting the army”, the authors of the petition hid the names of those who signed it, and later completely deleted the appeal for the safety of the signatories. About it “Paper” said the head of the trade union of education workers “Alliance of Teachers” Daniil Ken.
The Teachers Against War social media was last updated in March. Then Roskomnadzor banned call a war a war, from the media demanded use only official sources of information, and later introduced administrative and criminal punishment for spreading “fake news” about the Russian army.
Now in St. Petersburg there are no such initiatives, says “Paper” Head of the Alliance of Teachers Daniel Ken. This is confirmed by the teacher of one of the St. Petersburg schools. According to them, the only remaining form of protest of teachers is the non-use of the manuals of the Ministry of Education.
By law about education, teachers should not engage in political agitation and impose any views on schoolchildren. However, after February 24, many people forgot about this requirement.
“Pedagogical workers are prohibited from using educational activities for political agitation, forcing students to accept political, religious or other beliefs or renounce them, to incite social, racial, national or religious hatred, for agitation promoting exclusivity, superiority or inferiority of citizens on the basis of social , racial, national, religious or linguistic affiliation”.
What actions were carried out in St. Petersburg schools:
- At the beginning of the war, in Lyceum No. 488, schoolchildren with Russian flags in their hands were lined up in the letter Z. Photographs of the action published March 15 in the institution group on VKontakte. The school wrote that teenagers “took part in the #ZaRussia action.”
- In the summer, in August, the lyceum participated in the “Children for Children” campaign. Schoolchildren collected books, which were then sent to students from the DPR and LPR.
- October 19 at Lyceum No. 488 again held patriotic action – schoolchildren were asked to make postcards for the mobilized. On one of them is written: “They beat the Nazis in the 20th century, we will beat them in the 21st.”
- In October at school number 541 in St. Petersburg held action “Letter to a Soldier” – eighth grade students drew tanks and letters Z and wrote about how grateful they are to those mobilized for “defending the Motherland”. The school said that from the very beginning of the “special military operation, the children support our soldiers and officers.”
Such events are the initiatives of specific schools, and not the order of higher departments, says “Paper” a teacher from St. Petersburg and the founder of the Institute of Non-Formal Education Dima Zitser.
– There are no manuals on how to communicate with children. There are methodological materials that only advise how to teach a particular subject. Their implementation is at the discretion of the school principal. Nobody checks whether they are used or not,” Zitzer said.
At the same time, in early March, Mediazona published a text that was allegedly sent to Russian schools before the lesson on the beginning of the attack on Ukraine. The publication called it a manual on how teachers should be told about the “special military operation”, its causes and consequences for anti-war speeches.
Schoolchildren and teachers who agreed to speak anonymously with “Paper”confirm that participation in “patriotic” actions is the initiative of a particular school or even a particular teacher.
- A student of school No. 45 in the Primorsky district said that only one teacher openly talks to them about politics – a teacher of life safety. According to the girl, he discusses the war in Ukraine at every lesson. But this does not affect the opinion of schoolchildren – in the girl’s class, according to her, everyone does not support the actions of the Russian troops.
- At school No. 45, students were told about the punishment for participating in rallies, the schoolgirl says. However, according to the student, this did not look like intimidation – the teachers explained that in Russia, because of the administrative article, a person can have many problems.
- A student of one of the schools in the Kalininsky district of St. Petersburg shared that after February 24, all extracurricular activities at the educational institution began to be tied only to the theme of love for the motherland and duty to it.
- A teacher at gymnasium No. 642 in the Vasileostrovsky district said that no one is forced to talk to children about politics and patriotic events are not organized at the school. “I have an adequate school and management. We were only asked not to inspire children with our position on the war, ”the woman shared.
Since the beginning of this academic year, schools have been holding “Conversations about the Important” lessons dedicated to “defending the motherland”, traditional family values, Russian scientists and writers. Because of this, some called lessons of the “propaganda project”.
Whether the subject is mandatory is still a question.
- September 19 Ministry of Education statedthat schoolchildren are required to attend “Conversations about the Important”. The department clarified that the lesson is a mandatory part of the educational program.
- On the site “Conversations about the important” indicatedthat they are extracurricular activities. According to law about education, attendance at such classes remains voluntary. The same follows from requirements SanPiN to the conditions and organization of training in educational institutions.
- At the same time there letter Ministry of Education on the participation of students of municipal and state schools of the Russian Federation in extracurricular activities. It says that extracurricular work is included in the compulsory educational program. At the same time, the program should take into account the needs of students.
In fact, some parents who wrote refusal to attend classes, receive threats of expulsion of their children. At the same time, some students still do not attend these classes and continue their education.
The topics of the classes also vary: in different schools, children are told about different things, although the topics of the lessons are indicated by the Ministry of Education.
What is dedicated to “Conversations about the important”:
- In one of the St. Petersburg schools on October 24, before the lesson “Talk about the important” to sixth graders told about “referendums” in the occupied territories of Ukraine and that their results “restored historical justice”.
- October 3 in one of the schools of St. Petersburg in the Primorsky district told about the annexation of the territory of Ukraine. About it “Paper” said the parents of the first grader.
- September 3 at school number 45 of the Primorsky district at the first lesson in the ninth grade rose the theme of success and successful people: students were asked what qualities a successful person has. The teacher spoke about the social lifts provided by the projects of the presidential platform “Russia is a Land of Opportunities”.
- For first-graders of the school of the Central district of the teacher told about the holiday of September 1st.
In some schools, even before the introduction of “Conversations about the Important”, they began to organize lectures on politics. In early April for high school students of several schools in the Krasnogvardeisky district of St. Petersburg organized a meeting with the leaders of patriotic clubs and former military men Evgeny Peters and Valery Zolotukhin. The men told the teenagers about the hostilities in Ukraine.
After the introduction of “Talk about Important” and numerous “patriotic” actions, some parents began to withdraw their children from public schools. As he says “Paper” teacher Dima Zitser, now the demand for education in private schools and for family education has greatly increased.
— More and more parents choose family education, as it is the easiest and shortest way out of the classical school. Not all cities have private educational institutions and not everyone can afford to pay for education at the school. Therefore, they choose family education – it is more accessible, – Zitser added.
Representatives of another private school in St. Petersburg, who wished to remain anonymous, also speak of an increase in the number of students.
– Some parents openly say that they left the public school because of the obsessive “patriotic upbringing,” – said “Paper” at school.
The number of homeschoolers has also increased until 2022. Ministry of Education data show that from 2017 to 2021, the number of families choosing homeschooling increased by 27%. Figures for the 2022-2023 academic year will be released next January.
Teachers are under pressure not only from the authorities, but also from school management. In some regions, they say, educators are being fired for being anti-war, refusing to hold “patriotic” events, and even mentioning their origins. In St. Petersburg, one such case is known.
- March 25 to school number 109 in the Primorsky district of St. Petersburg for a labor lesson came policemen with machine guns. They detained teacher Gennady Tychyna and kept him in the department for 48 hours. The protocol, according to the teacher, stated that he used foul language on the street, although he was detained in the classroom. As a result, the teacher was released, but fired. By opinion Tychyna – because on March 1 he told the guard that he was proud of his Ukrainian origin. Officially, the reason for the dismissal was not announced. In August, the Primorsky District Court obliged school to restore Gennady Tychyna at work. Knownthat on August 23, 13 days after the court decision, the teachers were never reinstated.
Dismissals related to the war in Ukraine were also in other regions of Russia.
- In April, Marina Dubrova, an English teacher from Korsakov, Sakhalin Oblast, was fired for her anti-war stance. About this she reported “Siberia. Realities.” In a conversation with students at recess, a woman said that war was a mistake. Children without her knowledge recorded these words on video. Then the mother of one of the schoolgirls filed a complaint with the police. Dubrova was fined 30,000 rubles under an article about “discrediting” the Russian army, wrote “Siberia. Realities”.
- In early March, in the Moscow region, teacher Alexander Boburov was fired from the private school “President”, where the children of officials and businessmen study. About this man reported “Mediazone”. In February, he told his students about the beginning of the war and “under the influence of emotions” compared Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler. The school management considered such an act “immoral” and fired Boburov.
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The head of the Union of Teachers, Daniil Ken, told “Paper”that until February 24, most of the complaints received by the organization from teachers were related to violations of labor rights, after that – to propaganda and fees to help the military.
– 90% of letters – about propaganda in schools and universities. Later, they were added to the requisitions for the army. We also help to appeal fines for anti-war publications and participation in protests – we organize collections to cover fines. At the start of this school year, we were getting about 50 letters a week asking for help or legal advice,” Ken added.
According to the human rights activist, cases challenging the dismissals of teachers are very difficult to win, since more often teachers are not fired, but forced to resign, create unbearable working conditions or blackmail them with the risk of criminal prosecution for their anti-war position.