| JRL Home | JRL Simple/Mobile | RSS | Newswire | Archives | JRL Newsletter | Support | About
Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

Teachers fret over racism in schools

This September's new school year will see a focus not just on education ­ but on the sobering statistic that fully one quarter of high school students support ultranationalist and fascist views.

That was the conclusion of a recent survey announced by Moscow's deputy prosecutor, Vladimir Yudin, and reflects continuing unease several months after last December's Manezhnaya and Kievskaya race riots in Moscow.

During those riots, hundreds of schoolchildren were seen taking part in the protests.

For months, the involvement of schoolchildren in the riots has been discussed in the media by Education and Science Minister Andrei Fursenko, teachers and law enforcement agencies.

When the figures on schoolkids' attitudes were released, the Public Chamber expressed its concern, and its members called for more action from the government.

"There should be a concrete state policy on the nationalities problem. Also, there should be a system of education for people about the culture of ethnic minorities ­ in the universities, schools and even through social advertising, media," Chamber member Alexander Brod, director of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights, told the Moscow News.

Brod said the biggest problem in society was a lack of democratic institutions and a healthy legal environment, which could help to lower tensions and inter-ethnic hatred.

"The level of aggression and intolerance in Russia is very high. And this not only applies to ethnic minorities, but also to pensioners, or any people with a different point of view," he said.

Some Moscow schoolteachers expressed similar concerns about intolerance.

"It's not just youth that is ill with intolerance, but our entire society, especially in Moscow.

I think many people support skinheads' views on the national question among Muscovites," Irina Koshanova, deputy head of School No. 460 in the city's southeastern administrative district, told The Moscow News.

Koshanova said that in her school there are children of Vietnamese and Chinese origin, but there are no racist problems there.

She proposed to not only have lessons about tolerance, but teach the history of Russia better.

"Look at the historical reconstruction societies ­ they show how Russia was formed over the last 1,000 years. We should involve children into learning about Russian history and cultures," she said, adding that a question of illegal migration and ethnic criminality could not be avoided either.

"When the rulers of Moscow start to do something with the illegal migration and ethnic criminality, then the attitude will change," she said.

Some experts said that high school students' views were shaped by their experiences.

"This kind of ideology is created on the basis of their own personal experience ­ be it fights outside of school or rumors or stories they have heard involving ethnic minorities. They translate this experience into an ethnic tension by judging the situation on principles our society has," Alexander Verkhovsky, president of SOVA, an anti-racism organization, told The Moscow News.

Verkhovsky said it would be impossible to change these views even in a decade, but they could be transformed and influenced over time.

"Instead of formal 'lessons of tolerance' there should be other methods to tell school students about the situation.

We should observe what high school children talk about and explain to them what is happening, but the explanation should be unbiased," Verkhovsky said. "We should treat children as adults and explain things as we would explain them to one another ­ as unbiased as possible," Lyubov Andriyanova, deputy head of school no. 222 in northeast Moscow, told The Moscow News.

"I believe we should not condemn or censure these ethnic groups and their lifestyles when we talk with teenagers about them, because when we do teens will get more interested in the topic and this might lead to the formation of radical views," Nadezhda Popova, deputy head of school 45 in central Moscow, told The Moscow News.

The government will present a bill to the State Duma in September excluding the word "national" when describing ethnic conflicts or clashes in Russia.

Experts say this initiative is the first step toward civic unity in society.

"Nation and national have a bigger status in our language, and if in the future it will be applied to everyone who lives in Russia, then it will help increase the status of civic unity," said Verkhovsky, of SOVA.

Russia, Education - Russian News - Russia - Johnson's Russia List

Bookmark and Share - Back to the Top -        


Bookmark and Share

- Back to the Top -        

  Follow Johnson's Russia List on Twitter Tweet