President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Kravtsov, there are probably a lot of questions, we will talk about everything, but I would like to ask you to start with two things: federal payments to teachers – how this work is organised, how it is done, and if there are any problems or questions, and secondly, the construction of new schools and preschool facilities.
Education Minister Sergei Kravtsov: You have set specific targets for the education system. To attain them, we are working systematically with the regions, and the results are recorded in a motivating monitoring system specifically developed by us. The Ministry uses this monitoring system to write reports and sends them to the regions for pinpoint adjustment of their management decisions, in particular, on additional payments for classroom management, and on the construction of schools. All the payments approved for classroom management are being made on time. No regional or municipal payments have been reduced, as you mentioned, we are keeping this under control with the Federal Tax Service, with the regulatory authorities, with the Treasury, so all the payments reach the teachers.
As for building schools, due to the adamant demographic policy of late, we have seen an increase in the number of school-age children since 2010. As many as 16.5 million children are currently enrolled in schools, and by the 2024–2025 academic year, there will be 18.3 million schoolchildren. Therefore, under the relevant national project, in order to prevent the expansion of the two-shift classes practice, and to eliminate the three-shift option, we agreed on a public-private partnership and additionally raised 300 billion rubles for the education system.
As for kindergartens, 767 facilities for 112,000 children will be built this year. We will try to accommodate as many children as possible from the waiting list, and as you said, this situation has been taken under special review.
We also monitor the connection of schools to the internet and payment for their traffic.
We keep tabs on your directive regarding hot meals at all times. All primary school pupils receive free hot breakfasts. We keep tabs on this as well.
Vladimir Putin: The quality of the food must be monitored. It is time to enable parents to monitor the quality of the food and make arrangements accordingly to make sure the sanitary requirements are met. This should not be a problem. Parents' committees can organise this work.
Sergei Kravtsov: We have made arrangements; there is the Russian Parent Association, and we have it involved in food quality control, because parents are the best inspectors, and we will definitely continue to put more effort into this work.
Now, with regard to the quality of school education, Mr President, you have set the goal to have Russia join the top 10 countries in terms of the quality of school education. Despite the pandemic, we have reached the benchmark for 2020, and even did slightly better. The assessment procedures and the follow-up work based on assessment are of critical importance when assessing the quality of education. The Standardised State Exam is an important tool as well.
Textbooks, school curricula, and instructional guidelines are also important if we want to improve the quality of education. We carried out your instructions and adopted basic standards for all school subjects.
I would also like to thank you for supporting our efforts to implement the Ticket to the Future career guidance project for schoolchildren in historical parks – Russia – My History.
Starting this year, the project covers 23 historical parks located in the country’s major cities, where schoolchildren can use exciting multimedia to study Russia and its history and to learn more about various professions.
I would like to say a few words about children's holidays. Mr President, I would like to thank you separately for the opportunity to include summer camps and holiday centres in the Rostourism programme for reimbursing expenses for travel around Russia.
With regard to supporting teachers and interacting with them, we have created a National Expert Pedagogical Council for the purposes of feedback, with two teachers representing each region. The teachers picked their representatives by voting. Many Pedagogical Council members are winners and nominees of the Teacher of the Year contest.
You have mentioned the need to promote this contest on many occasions. We have continued the tradition of annual meetings with the winners of past years. We plan to convene a forum for teachers of the year to discuss and improve academic guidelines, the educational work system, and pedagogical issues.
With regard to the contest, we agreed with a number of TV channels, mass media outlets and online publications to broadcast all stages of the contest throughout the year. This could be interesting and important for schoolchildren who want to become teachers. Also, teachers of the year will be on the jury of the Bolshaya Peremena contest. Starting this year, pupils starting 5th grade and up, as well as college students, will be able to participate in the Bolshaya Peremena contest.
Next autumn, we will hold a nationwide week of homeroom teachers, which will end with an all-Russian forum. This year, the participants will primarily discuss the relevant aspects of educating schoolchildren of various ages, fostering good qualities. Teachers will exchange their experience, and working groups will be created to improve existing educational aids and develop new ones.
Vladimir Putin: Excuse me, Mr Kravtsov. This contest, Teacher of the Year, it must be made more relevant.
Sergei Kravtsov: Yes.
Vladimir Putin: Listen, there are so many interesting fields in natural science, and in the humanities. Each stage of the contest could be very entertaining, informative and exciting.
Sergei Kravtsov: This is why we gathered all the Teacher of the Year winners from previous years, discussed this with the teachers, and we already have a roadmap that we are starting on. Teachers of the year will also give lectures in the revived Znanie society, on television, in roundtables; we have organized their public lessons on the Ministry website. The teaching community is actually showing great interest.
Vladimir Putin: It should not be static.
Sergei Kravtsov: No, it should not, you are right.
Vladimir Putin: This can be done beautifully and interestingly, especially if the event is covered by federal and regional media.
Sergei Kravtsov: It will raise the prestige of the teaching profession, too.
Vladimir Putin: It most certainly will.
Sergei Kravtsov: As for our education policy, it should certainly be centered on fostering the best qualities in a child. What kind of person, our compatriot, citizen of Russia, do we want to raise and see in the future? We want them to be highly educated, kind, sympathetic and friendly towards other people, compassionate, courageous, capable of true creativity, responsible for their family and homeland, for any work entrusted to them, for their friends and colleagues, passionately loving their country along with its nature and culture, and respectful of the best traditions and customs of other peoples.
We will search for ways to reach these goals together with our teachers, educators, and psychologists. As many as 17,000 schools will be testing a comprehensive programme we developed for education this year. It contains recommendations for teachers, homeroom teachers, recommendations for organising extracurricular activities, working with parents, and establishing school self-government.
After the trial period, we will collect all the proposals from the participating teachers, and starting in the next academic year, this programme will be implemented in all schools in Russia. Starting September 1, advisors to school directors on education will join the programme. They are currently being trained at the Artek Centre under a programme based on the best domestic experience in education.
Vladimir Putin: Good. Thank you.