President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Kravtsov, I have a few questions. I believe you have a great deal to tell me, yet I would like to begin with some of the current issues that are a major concern for many people, namely, our schools’ readiness, at least partial, for distance learning.
Our plans for 2021 provide for completing the connection of all our schools to high-speed internet. How is this project proceeding? And what about some of the ministry’s other plans until 2024?
Minister of Education Sergei Kravtsov: Mr President, I would like to tell you that 2020 was not a simple year for our education system, but we managed to deal with our main challenges. As for distance learning or home schooling, it was a forced measure that we had to take last year to protect the health of our teachers and students amid the pandemic. This is why our schools introduced remote learning. But it will never replace traditional learning. Our schools reopened on September 1, and only revert to remote learning in a targeted manner when this is absolutely necessary.
We have already created a digital education environment, which has complemented and reinforced traditional learning by responding to new challenges. The digital education environment includes a national system of videoconferences, which has been created to abandon our dependence on foreign analogues, and a national social network used for interaction between students, parents and teachers. The content of our digital education environment has been thoroughly checked; it corresponds to the federal standards and is reviewed by experts.
As for our 2024 objectives, Mr President, you can see on the first slide the main parameters that have been set out in the form of express instructions in your executive orders. Our first objective is to build new educational establishments. Last year, we built 828 kindergartens for 122,000 children, and we will build another 767 kindergartens this year.
Last year, we built 277 schools for 169,000 students. This year, we will launch a four-year long project to build 1,910 schools for 1.2 million students. It is important that we have coordinated the allocation of an additional 300 billion rubles with VEB and Sberbank, which means that we will be able to build 500 schools more.
I would like to say a few words about our teachers. Last year was a difficult period for them, but they have managed, by and large. They kept in touch with their students, which was especially important for high school students who were preparing for the unified state exam. Last year, we reduced the amount of reporting for teachers. They have complained to you about this more than once, and now we have decided, together with Rosobrnadzor [Federal Service for Supervision in Education and Science], to reduce the number of papers teachers have to fill in to a minimum. They must not be bothered with paperwork.
Secondly, we will introduce a unified system of teacher training already this year. We can see the positive effect of the transfer of teacher training universities to the Education Ministry. I would like to thank you for supporting this project. Last year, the GPA requirement at teacher training universities increased for the first time. We will also take a look at teachers’ salaries.
(The Minister also answered the President’s questions about additional pay for classroom management and student mentoring, since these questions were raised during the annual news conference, which included elements of the Direct Line. According to the Minister, 810,000 classroom teachers received additional pay starting September 1. The Ministry is monitoring this together with the Federal Treasury and the Federal Taxation Service. However, there are problems with payments for classroom management at vocational schools and colleges. The Minister said that they are working on this problem and he would report on the outcome to the President.)
Last year, amendments to the Law on Education were adopted at your initiative to strengthen the mentoring aspect of school education. This year, schools in 10 Russian regions will introduce the post of school principal’s mentoring adviser with an additional pay of 15,000 rubles.
I would also like to tell you about an impressive and very successful project we completed last year, the Bolshaya Peremena nationwide contest for school students. You have met with its finalists, bright and talented children who can inspire both their peers and adults with their ideas. This year, not only high school students but also 5th-formers will take part in this contest.
Last year, we adopted a strategy for the development of secondary vocational education. We are synchronising curricula at colleges, where 60 percent of school students enrol after the 9th form. We can see that there is considerable interest for technical trades. Therefore, it is extremely important for children to be able to realise their potential and to find jobs in the professions they acquire at colleges in their cities and regions.
Mr President, I would like to say in conclusion that this year we will introduce incentivising monitoring of the regions when it comes to the quantitative and qualitative factors I have mentioned, including for the construction of schools and kindergartens, the mentoring aspect, and advanced training for teachers. We must assess the individual contribution of reach region to the achievement of the objectives you have outlined for the national system of education.
Vladimir Putin: Good, thank you.