At a meeting with students and teachers, Mr Putin said that the government would make every effort to maintain the high standard of the free education system.
President Putin emphasised the need to promote equal opportunities in education. Otherwise, the consequences would be extremely grave. In particular, the society would be split, which would undermine Russia’s competitiveness in the world, the President said.
Mr Putin said that the budget for 2001 puts the financing of education in the third place. Means have been allocated for the development of study materials and equipment, including computers and the updating of library stocks.
The President spoke for the creation of the continuing education system. Universities which would retrain specialists play a big role in this process.
He also said that the state would support student exchange programmes. Presidential scholarships would be awarded to support study abroad.
Answering a question about his personal popularity, Mr Putin said that it was impossible to combine real economic growth with boosting ones rating. If one wants to seem “nice to everyone”, one should raise pensions and salaries by taking advantage of the favourable conditions on the oil market. But that must not be done. And the government should openly explain to the people why it acts this way, the President said.
The effectiveness of the economy and its competitiveness not only demand significant efforts, but also lead to certain losses, because competition is impossible without them. To become integrated in the world’s economic space, it is imperative to open the borders. In this case, a part of Russian producers may feel the pressure from imported goods, which may be cheaper and of a higher quality. But that is the way we should go, Mr Putin said.