Russia’s Teacher of the Year contest has been held since 1992, and was established by the Ministry of Education and Science, Russia’s Trade Union of Education, and the Educators’ Newspaper. Representatives of educational institutions from all federal districts take part in the contest.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, I really enjoy meeting the winners of the annual national Teacher of the Year contest, and congratulating the winners, all of you. I don’t want to speak in generalities, but it is impossible to avoid them entirely.
I will once again emphasise the importance of what you do, your service, for our society, our country, and in general for any country, especially in today’s world. I would like to underscore that you not only work, you serve [the country]; in Russia teaching has always had a special mission: sharing knowledge and providing education.
Of course, the greatest effect is achieved through the combined efforts of the community of educators, parents, and the entire society that surrounds a child, but teachers always have a special responsibility. This is extremely important in today’s world. You probably know this, but I will repeat it once again.
We often speak about this at many different levels [of governance]; increasingly often we hear at both the national and international levels that education is becoming a factor driving economic growth and development.
Education has always been such a factor, because progress is impossible without educated people, but in today’s world it has become particularly prominent, important and tangible. Those who want a future must first and foremost invest less in machinery – though that is important too – and more in the minds of those who develop machinery and equipment. Naturally, I am speaking figuratively about machines and equipment; in fact I am referring to all material aspects of our existence.
Without up-to-date knowledge it is impossible to ensure the quality of development and leadership that we so desperately need. This does not mean that we must necessarily dominate in absolutely all areas, and in general I am not talking about domination, but rather about occupying a worthy place in the international labour market, ensuring our defence and, most importantly, strengthening our national identity and ensuring our sovereignty.
Having set our meeting and dialogue today at this high level, I’d like to give the floor to Mr Sidenko, the winner of this year’s competition.
Go ahead, please.
WINNER OF THE TEACHER OF THE YEAR 2013 COMPETITION, COMPUTER SCIENCE TEACHER FROM MYTISHCHI, MOSCOW REGION, ANDREI SIDENKO: I am still in the process of consciously understanding my mission and status, but overall, during the competition, the preparation period and the days I spent together with my colleagues, I realise that this has been an invaluable experience for me as a teacher and for my colleagues. This competition provides a resource for identifying unique practices in our country and spreading them so that not only those who represent their regions in the competition can make use of it, but all teachers, our colleagues throughout Russia. I therefore think that this competition should continue in the future.
Vladimir PUTIN: Have you been working long? It’s computer science that you teach, isn’t it?
Andrei SIDENKO: Yes, I’ve been teaching for seven years now.
Vladimir PUTIN: You’ve taught computer science the whole time?
Andrei Sidenko: Yes, that’s right.
Vladimir PUTIN: What kind of feedback do you get from your students in terms of the importance they give your subject? What’s their assessment, and what sense do you get of it in your practical work?
Andrei SIDENKO: In my work, I try not only to teach information technology skills, technical skills, but also to develop an information culture. This is very important in today’s world because we cannot build an information society unless we have an information culture.
Vladimir PUTIN: What is this information culture, as you see it?
Andrei SIDENKO: I think it is the ability to competently identify the information you need at any given moment. People in the modern world are surrounded by a tremendous quantity of information — the media, the Internet, books, this constant flow before our eyes, coming at us with every single step. The ability to identify what is important and what we need in this flow, and take competent and balanced decisions accordingly is what shapes an information culture, I think.
Vladimir PUTIN: Yes, it is extremely important to be able to take from this immense flow what you need and what has real value. This is not at all an easy thing to do. The more free and open these information flows become, the more important this kind of ability will become. You are absolutely right there.
Let’s talk about how you see the practical side of your work today and what problems you encounter. I know that there is not enough housing and that salaries should be higher. We will discuss this too. Then there are other issues too, organising the teaching process itself, relations with the various official organisations, from the school’s administration to the district and regional officials and so on, the way the education system is organised, the students’ workload, dividing time for studying different subjects, improving the National Final School Exam, and so on.
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