President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
This first meeting of our Council will look at developing the education sector at local level, above all, raising standards for pre-school, general, and extra-curricular education.
This work concerns not just education policy but is important for resolving our demographic problems. We will also look at issues concerning the way schools, kindergartens, nurseries, and children’s activity centres and sports clubs are run.
These institutions play an important part in the lives of a large number of our citizens. These are the places where our children receive their education. They constitute the most mass-scale and fundamental part of the entire education system.
Russia today has 57,700 general schools with more than 14 million pupils and almost 1.5 million teachers.
Furthermore, there are more than 47,000 establishments providing pre-school education and the number of children in these establishments is increasing every year and now comes to 5.4 million.
Finally, almost 11 million children take part in arts, science and technology, sports and other development activities as part of extra-curricular education programmes.
The local authorities are primarily responsible for organising these establishments’ work. It must be said that there are still a whole series of problems to resolve in this area.
Teachers’ wages need to be higher and the network of educational establishments needs to be more rational. Education services need to be of a higher standard and establishments need to offer more modern options that meet the public’s interests and the future demands of the labour market and the state. We have made some progress on these issues over recent years and have put in place a number of the legal, material and financial conditions needed for this work.
First, the Education National Project has given state support to establishments and teachers introducing modern and innovative technology. According to the experts, there has been a noticeable improvement in teaching conditions for around six million pupils in 15,000 state and municipal schools. All Russian schools are now equipped with computers and connected to the Internet. We have increased the fleet of school buses.
Second, changes are taking place in the system itself. Pilot projects for comprehensive modernisation in the education sector are underway in 21 regions and the quality of education services has improved.
Finally, local self-government itself has become stronger.
The municipal authorities need, however, to make their spending on education more effective. They need to be more active in introducing new financial and economic mechanisms and making the transition to new organisational and legal models for education establishments. This will give them greater economic and creative independence and the chance to depend not just on budget funds but also to attract private investment. More attention also needs to be paid to developing the infrastructure of children’s educational establishments.
This is far from an exhaustive list of the issues concerning education development. I think, however, that the Council for the Development of Local-Self Government can play a significant part in addressing some of our biggest priorities in this area.
This Council includes people at municipal, regional and federal level who are dealing with local issues everyday.
I call your attention the fact that the Prime Minister and the Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office have been appointed deputy chairmen of the Council.