* * *
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, colleagues.
Our presidium meeting today will examine the development of a state support system for gifted youth and children. This is not a new matter; we examined it a couple of years ago at a joint meeting of the State Council Presidium, the Council for Culture and Art, and the Council for Science, Technology and Education. We set up a special group then to draft a concept for a national system to discover and support young talent.
We have this concept before us now, but I would like us to discuss it together first before giving it the final approval. I hereby set a deadline of two weeks for bringing all the proposals together, taking into account the conclusions of today’s meeting too, and I ask you to keep this in mind. The Government has until the end of May to finalise the measures for implementing this programme and earmarking the necessary budget funding so that we do not end up with just another document full of good intentions but a programme receiving systematic budget support.
”All children must have the opportunity to develop their talents in different fields, no matter where they live and what financial background they come from. The state authorities’ job is to create the maximum opportunities and conditions for this self-realisation.“
Another important point of principle is that all children must have the opportunity to develop their talents in different fields, no matter where they live and what financial background they come from. The state authorities’ job is to create the maximum opportunities and conditions for this self-realisation in each different part of the country. This will ultimately bring into our economy, science and culture the new and highly-skilled talent we need in order to ensure Russia’s rapid development and turn our country into one of the leaders in global competition.
I stress here that our goal is not about singling out or supporting some kind of closed, elite groups. This is not at all what today’s meeting is about; it is about discovering and fostering the talents of millions of Russia’s children and youth through the programme we have prepared.
Russia already has a network of specialised centres and schools focused on scientific-technical and artistic development, and specialised sports schools too. The extra-curricular education system plays a big part here. Inter-school competitions are also developing fast. Indeed, over the last 5 years, more than 35 million year 5-year 11 students took part in the national-level school competitions. That is a big figure. There have been a lot of these competitions in recent years. They vary in level of course. Some of them are of a very high level, though a few fall short of standards.
Of course, if we want our support efforts to have a long-term effect we need to work on it not sporadically, from one presidium meeting to another, but systematically. We need to allocate responsibilities and the corresponding budget funds at the federal, regional, and municipal levels. Of course we will also need to modernise the methodological base for working with young talent, not to mention upgrading the material side of things. This is a complex process and it is work that is obviously on-going in nature. Training teachers is a separate issue that we will address too, and we will discuss this matter also later.
The regional programmes for developing education, culture and sport, are the instruments at your disposal, and perhaps the most important tool of all. These programmes exist in every region and should become one of the key components in implementing the support programme. We are currently in the process of drafting a long-term state programme for developing education in 2013–2020, which will include a section on work with gifted children.
”We are currently in the process of drafting a long-term state programme for developing education in 2013–2020, which will include a section on work with gifted children.“
We plan also to establish a coordination council for supporting young talent. I hope to see people from the science, culture and art communities, and also successful politicians and business people among its members. We need to do everything we can to ensure that all gifted children come to our attention. This is our job. We need to establish a common internet information portal for children, young people, and their parents and teachers. It could bring together within a single portal the whole infrastructure we establish for finding and developing young talent at every level too. This will hopefully help parents and the children themselves to better navigate their way through the numerous resources out there. Our presidium needs to make the decisions that will ensure that this portal is up and running by the start of next year. I will give this task to the Presidential Executive Office in cooperation with the Government.
I draw to your attention that, starting from this year, our first-graders are studying under the new educational standards. There has been much discussion of these new standards, and their pluses and minuses and potential risks, but finally, their implementation has gone ahead. Schools are putting in place the conditions that will let all children develop their potential. It is our job to ensure that each student’s personal success and development gets tracked right from the very start, thus building up into a resource for their future lives and a record of their personal achievements. Equally important is to consult with parents. After all, educating and developing gifted children can require considerable expense, and this is an area where we need to work together with the parents.
”It is extremely important that our business community also play its part in helping to develop our children’s and young people’s talents. I am sure that investment of this kind will be good for companies’ long-term development.“
Cooperation between leading schools and universities is another important matter. We need to expand the network of universities working with talented children and youth. There are some good examples of organising summer, winter, and extramural schools. Some of these examples are well known, in particular the Kolmogorov [boarding] school at Moscow State University. I visited a local high school today, actually, and saw that the students there take part in national competitions, which is a sign that the competition system is working well throughout the country.
To add just a couple more words, I think it is extremely important that our business community also play its part in helping to develop our children’s and young people’s talents. I am sure that investment of this kind will be good for companies’ long-term development. We saw today how undergraduate and postgraduate students are doing internships at one of the local companies. I think this is the right road. Let’s discuss the opportunities for getting the business community and members of the science, culture, and sports communities more involved in this work.