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Russia's president calls for modernization of education system

MOSCOW, August 30 (RIA Novosti) - President Dmitry Medvedev said in a TV interview that the Russian education system needs to be modernized to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

In an interview with the Vesti channel to be broadcast on Sunday evening, the president said: "The situation we are in now is not as difficult as it was in the 1990s, when our teachers were being paid virtually nothing... But on the other hand, we have not yet made a qualitative leap."

However, the president said the government has had some success in improving the education system. The national Education project has helped high schools, raising salaries for teachers, and providing new equipment.

"In institutions of higher education, we have managed to create a situation where the most advanced institutions have received quite considerable allocations from the budget," he said.

Discussing the Soviet education system, Medvedev said it had its strengths and weaknesses.

"We understand that there were also a range of problems in the Soviet education system. Without even considering the ideological slant, which was always present, colleges were far from equal."

He said the Soviet-era discrepancy in quality between education standards in the main cities and in the provinces remains today.

"Without arguing with the thesis that we had a good education system, I believe that our goal now is to create a modern education system, worthy of Russia in the 21st Century," he said.

The president also called for students who have obtained university grants using forged paperwork to be expelled.

"We need to tackle this... Law enforcers should be involved in checking who submitted what, and punishing the culprits," he said.

The interview comes just before the start of Russia's school term, on September 1.

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