Thu. Jun 1st, 2023

In Russia, school teachers defend the invasion of Ukraine and teach students the government’s ideology in a ‘discussion about important issues’ class. Resisting students and teachers face pressure.

File photo IANS
File photo IANS


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For the past two months, a “school week” has been observed in Russian schools, along with the mandatory raising of the Russian flag. One period is called “Conversation about important issues”. How does the Ministry of Education explain these ‘important issues’?

Sometimes public holidays are the focus of schools. Like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Old Generation Day. But on Teachers’ Day, students were told why the occupation of Ukrainian territory by Russian troops was a “historical justice”. Because Ukraine was “originally Russian territory” in the past.

School children often hear about Ukraine. Mark (whose name has been changed to protect his identity) attends a school in St. Petersburg. The director and teachers all told him that Ukraine was attacking them. “Actually we had to learn what we should do in case of a terrorist attack,” he said.

A student at a high school in Kaliningrad said that last month his school principal gave a long lecture about ‘patriotism’.

Inquiries after class

In Russia, parents who want to keep their kids away from such lessons may face difficulties. That is, a report reaches the Youth Welfare Office and the person who does so is forced to undergo psychological counseling at the state office. This is what happened to the family of 10-year-old Varia Shulikar. He dropped out of a class in Moscow on “Talking About Important Issues.” Her mother Zelena recalls the incident, saying that a committee at her daughter’s school discussed her daughter’s behavior.

A representative of the school administration, a psychologist and a man, believed to be a member of the internal intelligence service FSB, told him that he was absent from Subvariya Sholikar’s class on “Talking About Important Issues”. Very concerned about attendance.

Investigators searched the family’s home after interviewing school administrators and police officials. Investigators said they found extremist channels on Variya Shulikar’s laptop, which were being watched on the laptop. Variya Shulikar’s mother could not provide any explanation.

Difficult choices for teachers

The lesson of patriotism is a difficult matter not only for parents but also for teachers. Daniel Kane, chairman of the “Russian Alliance of Teachers”, says that there used to be only isolated cases of teachers making statements on social networks and participating in rallies, but it seems that now it has become an institution. He added, “The lessons of propaganda are now being implemented, forcing people to decide whether to participate in them or not.” Kane was classified as a “foreign agent” by authorities in September.

The teachers’ union is also defending Tatiana Chervenko in court. The teacher from Moscow refused to talk about the “discussion of important issues” and gave an interview to the television channel DOZHD. The channel now broadcasts from Latvia but operates in Russia and for Russian viewers. The school administration reprimanded him, which he challenged. Chervenko is still involved in the teaching process at the school, but Danielle Kinn suspects that she will be fired from her school job.

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