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Russia's 'demographic collapse' means fewer teachers needed - Putin

Crowd with Russian Flag

Moscow, 10 November: The development of the demographic situation in Russia will inevitably be accompanied by a reduction in the number of schoolchildren, and a corresponding reduction in the number of schoolteachers, and the state and society must prepare for this, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said.

"We know the demographic statistics. It's an obvious fact. There's no need to pretend that we don't notice anything, that's as obvious as the sun rising," Putin said during a meeting in Moscow on Wednesday (10 November) with teachers and parents of pupils at one of the schools in the capital.

In this regard the prime minister stressed that "we must think about how to support people and teachers, we must set aside resources for this and organize workforce retraining".

The prime minister also noted that he understands the concern of trade unions in connection with the reform of schools into autonomous establishments. "Autonomous establishments get the right to optimize their teaching staff. This justifiably gives rise to fears among the trade unions," he acknowledged.

In this regard the prime minister noted that he believes it is right to make provision, in particular, to support teachers taking their pensions, to increase their pensions payments and to take a series of other measures.

At the same time, Putin pointed out that optimizing the numbers of teaching staff means freeing up money in schools which can be used to increase teachers' pay.

Putin supported the idea of shifting schools onto a system of per capita statutory financing. At the same time he noted that the funds freed up in schools, including by saving budget resources, must remain in those schools. At the same time the prime minister pointed out that school self-administrations - parents and pupils - must take part in the redistribution of these resources.

Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin, who took part in the meeting, described his experience of schools being shifted over to statutory funding. The capital's mayor spoke about how these issues were addressed in Tyumen Region, which he once ran.

The prime minister endorsed Tyumen Region's experience, agreeing that funds that have been saved must remain with educational establishments.

At the same time, he noted in particular that those funds that are allocated from the federal budget under statute for each pupil "must not be cut".

State funding must be and will be directed at schools in the full amount in accordance with the number of children studying there, Putin stressed.

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