President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues,
I would like to briefly sum up the results of today’s meeting. I first want to say a few words about several of the ideas put forward today that I think deserve support.
Two such proposals came from Viktor Antonovich Sadovnichy [Vice President of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Rector of M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University] regarding a coordination council and the idea of declaring 2010 Teachers’ Year. I see no problems with either of these proposals. Teachers’ Year is a good idea in general, and most importantly of all, it should go hand in hand with a real change in teachers’ status and a real increase in opportunities. So, if we take up this proposal, we must make sure that it is not just an empty event without real substance. I will issue an instruction accordingly.
There was a proposal (I think it came from Natalia Vladimirovna Kamenkova [a teacher from Chelyabinsk Region] about having teachers do a year as an intern. This is an interesting proposal. I am not sure how feasible it is in terms of the current rules the Education Ministry follows on work placement and the arrival of new graduates in schools. We should examine this proposal. There might be something good in it, at any event, the opportunity for graduates to really test themselves and see if teaching in schools is what they want to do, because this is perhaps the biggest problem.
Svetlana Yevgenyevna Smolentseva [a teacher from the Republic of Chuvashia] said that there is a shortage of qualified professionals in schools. This is something that everyone has spoken about. We need to ensure that specialists from various fields enter school teaching. The trendy word ‘loser’ also sounded today.
Our job is to make sure that teachers are not seen as losers. How can we do this? Money is not the whole solution. After all, when a graduate from a teacher’s college, and even more so from a research university decides to take up school teaching this is not at all an easy choice. Whether there is an internship period preceding the decision or something else, this decision is one that people take fully aware that teaching is a difficult and not very profitable profession, a profession that saw its prestige fall drastically during the 1990s. I think therefore that one of our goals must be to raise the prestige and popularity of teaching as a profession. I mean making it more popular, using the media and literature to help achieve this goal. Teaching is one of the most respected professions in the world, and it really is a vocation. I think that this is an area we also must work on.
Regarding the dual-level UNE (Unified National Exam) system, the minister just informed me that this issue was examined at the collegium meeting today, if I understood correctly. I ask that this work continue.
Zhores Ivanovich Alfyorov, [State Duma deputy, Vice President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Nobel Prize winner] raised the issue of rural schools. This really is a very big area for work and we realise what difficulties many of these schools face and what lack of resources they are dealing with. But strange though it may seem, it is sometimes easier to attract people into working in rural schools than in the city schools because if you go to work in a rural school you stand a good chance of getting housing, and this is not as expensive relevant to the conditions in the corresponding locations. Schools in the cities, and even less so in the capitals, offer no such opportunity. In this sense, developing rural schools should be one of our priorities. In general, as I said already today, we really need to put in place new approaches to reconstruction and construction of schools too. They are all so different at the moment.
I was in the Moscow Region yesterday and took a walk in one of the cultural centers. It was really a very fine school indeed, a real pleasure to see, but when you see a school like that you realise what a miserable state most of the others are in. We need different schools, but there should be a common set of educational and consumer standards too. I think it would be good to look at measures whereby if businesses spend money on construction of schools and engineering infrastructure this could be counted as expenditure for profit tax calculation purposes. This would be a support measure we could use. This would require instructions from the Finance Ministry.
The last thing I want to say is that we are all working on developing the schools of the future. We need to remember that the future starts now and not in 2020. If we always put things off until the future we will have nothing of any worth in 2020 either. Concrete work and concrete instructions need to be carried out today. But this does not mean that we should not also be looking ahead. The initiative we formulated and discussed here today, the idea for a new school, is a good idea overall, but it should be implemented alongside our routine business. We have no need for projects that are not accompanied by concrete work, and so we should continue carrying out the national project and at the same time drawing up this new initiative.
I will continue the discussions on this subject in another format – at the meeting of the Council for National Projects, which will take place at the start of November. I ask all you who have an interest in a detailed discussion of this issue to present your proposals to the Council for Science. We will continue work on the national projects. I say once again that this is probably one of the most successful examples of work in recent times.
Finally, before we leave, I would like to congratulate some of our colleagues on their birthdays. It is Andrey Gennadyevich Lisitsyn-Svetlanov’s [Director of the Institute for State and Law, Russian Academy of Sciences] birthday today, and we congratulate you most sincerely. It is also Alexander Oganovich Chubaryan’s [Director of the Institute for World History, Russian Academy of Sciences] birthday. I did not give him the floor today but will do so next time. His birthday was yesterday. We congratulate you too.