Excerpts from a meeting with the winners and finalists of the Teacher of the Year 2022 national contest and participants in the Klassnaya Tema! television show
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends.
I apologise for the delay. We had some technical issues with the connection, but I hope that everything is fine now. Now we can hear and see each other.
Today is Teacher’s Day. Please accept my best wishes on this occasion. I would like to congratulate school faculty members in all 89 regions of Russia. We will uphold our commitment to helping all of you further improve the educational process by rebuilding, renovating schools and building new ones, and providing all the support you need. We do understand that this has special importance for the new regions of the Russian Federation.
Autumn break is around the corner, and we need to think about how to organise it for the pupils, especially in territories where calm has yet to be restored or where it is still dangerous, unfortunately.
There is another topic, which is not directly linked to education but also requires your attention. Children in the new territories must undergo health assessments. Many of them could not pursue their studies for many years, and also were unable to receive adequate medical care.
Mobile brigades from various regions of the Russian Federation will carry out some of these assessments right in kindergartens and schools. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that this will be taking place in schools, and, of course, I am asking you to support this initiative.
We all converge around the great Russian language, our shared history, and the long-standing and uninterrupted traditions of teaching excellence dating back to Sukhomlinsky and Makarenko. What underpins all of this is the love of our homeland, humanity, a generous soul, wisdom, kindness, respect and love for our children.
Established back in the Soviet era, Teacher’s Day is a marvellous and sincere celebration of our teachers, always filled with joy and emotion. I would like to thank once again teachers across all generations who have taught their pupils values such as conscience, honour and duty, staying true to your roots, your past, being responsible for your homeland and ready to help it, and defend your Fatherland.
The soldiers and officers serving in the Russian Army, as well as volunteers and militia in the heroic Donbass region who are fighting for our right, and for their right, to choose their own development path, were brought up with these timeless values.
I want to stress: Russia has been and will be a sovereign state. To make sure this continues, at this turning point in the development of our country and the entire world, we must build and strengthen a sovereign national education and learning system for the younger generations, ensure the connectivity and integrity of our education. First of all, we must pass on our nation's moral and cultural code to children and prevent any attempts to impose foreign values or a distorted interpretation of history.
To this end, starting from the next academic year – as you know, of course – schools throughout Russia, including in our new regions, will use uniform mandatory approaches to teaching the younger generation the right attitudes, as well as to teaching socially significant subjects. These include Russian, literature, history and social studies, geography, and the environment.
Next, another very important application of our efforts is the development of engineering education, the dissemination of unique methods of teaching the sciences, and the training of teachers, primarily mathematics, computer science, and physics teachers. With support from the Sirius Centre, which has already become widely popular, and leading schools and universities, we will do everything necessary to ensure that school-age children begin to develop the skills and competencies that are required during this period of rapid technological change.
I know that the average age of the participants in the federal stage of the Teacher of the Year competition is just over 27. You're all young people. You, too, were in school just 15 years ago, and now you have already reached the heights of your profession.
It won't be long before your students become teachers, doctors, engineers, and scientists. I am sure that they will be successful. We have a wonderful, gifted generation growing up. Today’s children and adolescents are increasingly showing achievements in science, environmental protection, sports and culture.
Together, with the We Are Together volunteer project, we are ready to provide assistance to the families of the participants of the special military operation.
As you know, children have decided to rally together to expand their engagement in society, to combine their efforts, and initiate the Russian Movement of Children and Youth. They decided to create what one might call a single youth community in our large country.
We certainly need to foster and support their strong and sincere sense of responsibility and involvement in the fate of their Motherland. Our children should know how they can and should use the knowledge gained in the classroom to build and reinforce Russia, and measure their plans and dreams against our common national development goals.
So today I propose discussing what we are going to do together to achieve this.
Once again, happy Teachers' Day.
Let's get started.
Please, Mr Lutovinov.
Dmitry Lutovinov: Good afternoon, Mr President.
First, thank you for congratulations.
I am a history teacher from Orekhovo-Zuyevo, Moscow Region.
People in this room participated in various professional teacher’s contests and projects. Participation in contests is a great experience helping you assess the changes underway in school education. My question has to do with these changes.
There are plans to create uniform curricula and textbooks. Of course, this is extremely important for us as teachers, and especially for me as a history teacher, because we know that it is essential to provide a uniform interpretation of historical events throughout the country amid the current abundance of information.
In this connection, I have a proposal. Of course, it is an important step, because we, the finalists of the Teacher of the Year contest, can help compile such textbooks in our regions. I would like to ask you to integrate, if possible, Teachers of the Year, the finalists of this contest, in the relevant expert groups. We will do our best to consolidate and bring the opinion of our region’s teachers to members of these expert groups.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Lutovinov, it is no secret, and we know this very well, that the start of discussions on uniform textbooks and approaches has led to various debates in the professional community and society as a whole. This is logical, because the matter concerns our future – children and their understanding of where we live, what we live for, what Motherland means, what our history and the future of our country are, how we should determine and build our future, and how we can move towards it. Of course, there were certain fears about excessive standardisation. I fully agree with that. I think we should listen to those who expressed that opinion.
At the same time, regarding what I have already mentioned, which must be obvious to you as a history teacher, I believe that there must be a single standard for a subject with such a great social impact. This is the case for history, the subject you teach, as well as social studies and many other subjects. We cannot cover the Battle of Stalingrad one way in a textbook, and present it differently in another one. There can be a plurality of views on this topic, but there must be a single standard.
By the way, this would not prevent teachers from having their own point of view on these subjects. After all, it is obvious that even guided by a single standard each person can have his or her own way of presenting it. This does nothing to undermine creativity, since every teacher will be free to add a personal touch. It is just like playing music: the sheet music may be the same for everyone, but it will sound somewhat different when played by different musicians. This goes to say that creating a single standard for social sciences leaves space for creativity.
As for science disciplines – physics, mathematics, robotics, big data and so forth – of course, I agree with those who believe that we do not need single standards or any rigid frameworks here, trying to fit everything into a Procrustean bed.
I wanted to share my point of view on this matter. I believe that we agreed with the professional community to proceed along these lines. We need to make sure that specialists like you are involved, especially considering that you won the 2022 Teacher of the Year contest. Please accept my heartfelt congratulations and rest assured that we will reach out to you.
(To Sergei Kravtsov) Let me ask the Education Minister – Mr Kravtsov, could you take note and execute this instruction?
Mr Lutovinov, once again, congratulations. I wish you every success.
We will definitely work together on these matters.
Dmitry Lutovinov: Thank you very much, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: Best of luck to you.
Please, Ms Bakhmutskaya, you have the floor.
Yulia Bakhmutskaya: Good afternoon, Mr President.
My name is Yulia Bakhmutskaya, and I am from Makeyevka in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
I am probably more excited than all my other colleagues who are present here. All these years, I lived and worked in my home city. I find it very hard to describe the conditions in which we lived until 2022. As a historian, I perceived what was happening to the people of Donbass and the attitude of Ukrainian authorities in a particularly painful manner.
I would like to thank you very much. This is not only my own gratitude, but it also comes on behalf of all my colleagues from the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Lugansk People’s Republic, and the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions: thank you so much. All this time, Russia alone helped us and was not afraid to intervene for us when our lives were really in danger.
Today, our schools are open, children are using new textbooks, teachers are able to obtain methodological support and to improve their skills. In fact, we had been deprived of all this.
Speaking of the referendum’s results, I saw that I was not alone: we are together, and there are many of us. I am confident that we will stand firm, and that no one will deprive us of our common history.
I know that the Ministry of Education of the Donetsk People’s Republic closely cooperates with the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation, and we are implementing a plan of large-scale assistance and integration. I would like special attention to be paid to the infrastructure, especially the sport infrastructure. Although I am not a physical education teacher, I realise that it is highly important for children to engage in sport and to lead a healthy lifestyle. Indeed, this will be very significant for them.
Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: Ms Bakhmutskaya, if I may, I would also like to comment on what you just said.
First, with regard to protecting the people of Donbass and other territories in this life-threatening situation, we have covered this many times and in different aspects. What is now possible, is, no doubt, made possible by the Russian army and the men who are not sparing their lives to protect your lives and the lives of your children. This is critically important. Of course, we believe the situation will be stabilised, and we will be able to develop these territories in peace and help you strengthen the country in general. Many thanks and low bows go to you and all the people who, alongside you, have endured hardships on these territories for so many years and who had their hearts set on reunification with Russia.
Frankly, the results of the referendum that you mentioned not only pleased me, but surprised me as well. People lived and continue to live in difficult conditions, and the result is so good. Rest assured, and I think the observers also saw this first-hand, that no one tried to tamper with, clean up or add anything to the results. We decided for ourselves, and I decided for myself that it would be the way the people want. We will do as the people say. The result is more than convincing and is absolutely transparent. There can be no doubt about it. Everything is as it is. These are the objective data about the people’s mindset. This is my first point.
Second, with regard to history and what has happened to history and is, unfortunately, still happening in Ukraine. You know, perhaps today’s conflict would not have been there in the first place if it were not for the attempts by certain forces in Ukraine and in the West to adjust history and to tear this history apart, if it were not for the glorification of those who collaborated with Hitler and the Nazis, and if it were not for the desire to revive neo-Nazism on our historical territories.
You know, I often have discussions with my colleagues, including from Europe, who tell me: “So what? They do have elements of neo-Nazism there. Do you think we do not have them? You, in Russia, also have neo-Nazis, and we, in European countries, have them as well. There are all kinds of freaks and idiots out there, even criminals; so what?” Indeed, neo-Nazism is pervasive. It is a very poisonous breed, and neo-Nazi ideas of self-glorification and of humiliating and striving to destroy other peoples probably exist everywhere around the world. But the difference lies in the fact that I am not aware of a single country, except today’s Ukraine, where neo-Nazis are extolled as national heroes. They can be found in Paris and, probably, some neo-Nazis are holing up somewhere in Moscow too, but we are persecuting them and fighting this. In the case of Ukraine, on the contrary, they are being aggrandised and put on a pedestal. They are allowed to hold thousand-strong torchlight processions in central parts of major cities. This is what boggles the mind and causes rejection. This cannot help but cause rejection from a normal person.
It is strange that the so-called West does not see this. On the other hand, I think they do see it, but they are trying to use everything they can against us. They support everything that can be used effectively against us. They did this back in the themed-1990s and in the early 2000s, when they supported international terrorists who were fighting on our territory, and they are doing this now when they support neo-Nazis in Ukraine precisely because they are an instrument and a method of fighting Russia. But since we are aware of this, we should chart our own course. And this is what we will do.
Therefore, what you have said here about a plan of assistance to Donbass, and this also concerns Zaporozhye and Kherson, will be a separate issue. I have mentioned this in my opening remarks. It must be a comprehensive plan that will be harmonised not only with infrastructure development, which is obvious, as well as with sports infrastructure and, of course, medical services – I have mentioned children’s medical check-ups in the opening remarks, but it should also be concerned about the contents of the education process.
We have always felt and, despite the current tragedy, still feel great respect for the Ukrainian people, Ukrainian culture, language, literature and so on, and we have never done what is being done in Ukraine to Russian culture and the Russian language.
For our part, we will go our own way and will respect everything that is Ukrainian. There are three million ethnic Ukrainians in Russia, and we never saw and do not see any difference, we never made and do not make any distinction between Russians and Ukrainians.
But while going our own way – I see it as a creative process – we will undoubtedly cast aside everything that may hinder our forward movement. This is why it is very important to regulate the process of both teaching and educating children in the spirit that has always been unique for Russia, which we have always been and always will be proud of.
I would like to wish you all the best. We will certainly implement everything I have mentioned and everything you have pointed to.
Vladimir Putin: (Commenting on the remarks by Yury Dolgikh, a teacher from Kurgan, who touched upon the Talking of What Matters new large-scale project in schools) Indeed, a very important point. Without any doubt, we will develop this platform, including involving children, so that this topic always remains relevant.
It is important, undoubtedly, and very complex too, because, as you said, “they, the children, are asking us, teachers, big questions,” which means questions for which they do not have ready-made answers. But it is not only that.
You know, it is something we mention regularly – they may not always ask you. They may find it much easier to seek answers on the internet, and the answers they find there are far from always reliable, objective and truthful.
Therefore, it is very important that the Talking of What Matters platform has a rich agenda and helps you, as mentors, to keep the children’s interest, increase it, if anything. It should differ from what they might find on the internet, as much as Wikipedia differs from volumes of respected encyclopaedias, with content that is verified and approved by the Academy of Sciences researchers and other top-notch professionals. It is very important to provide reliable information, and make sure it is interesting, and presented in a way that spurs attention. The Talking of What Matters project will certainly grow and will be good support for you.
And you certainly need to involve the children. As I said, they even initiated a whole new children’s and youth movement. No doubt they will be interested. And if they feel they are part of the process, important contributors, they will be even more interested and engaged, and will be more likely to support the reasoning you use to convince your audience that your approach is right. I do not doubt this at all.
Timur Artykov: Good afternoon, Mr President.
My name is Timur Artykov. I am from Ulyanovsk.
Today, we have already talked about establishing a federal public information system, My School. New digital tools and new technologies are being implemented in education institutions, along with equipment upgrades and new teaching methods.
I would like to point out that not all regions are currently connected to this system, although its purpose is to solve very important, essential tasks. As a chemistry teacher, it is important for me that this system deals with the problem of access to verified content, to ensure that teaching a subject is based on credible, well-targeted, scientifically validated and hands-on materials, supported with video content and visuals.
I would like to encourage our regions to get involved in this work more actively because it is very important for any student in any education institution anywhere in our big country to have access to clear and verified, scientifically grounded content. They must be able to understand the quality of their own education. It is important.
Vladimir Putin: I fully agree with you. In fact, this is the goal and purpose of developing any information system, especially in education. My School is doing exactly this, making sure that in any corner of our enormous country, teachers and their students can take advantage of advanced technology and knowledge, solutions in different areas.
We will continue to develop it. It is also very important to ensure that all schools have access to fast broadband internet. Our goal was to expand internet coverage primarily in rural areas. By the way, I can see from reports that the progress is good. Even in rural areas, the internet accessibility project is developing faster than in cities, as was our plan. It should be developing equally well everywhere, and we will work on that. We will make sure the system contains all the necessary content. There is no question about it.
Thank you for pointing out this matter.
Aslan Kashezhev: Good afternoon, Mr President.
Kashezhev Aslan, city of Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkarian Republic.
I would like to start by thanking the state for programmes like the scholarship of the President and the Government of the Russian Federation for implementing natural science specialties. This is important, because when people are becoming familiar with new subjects like physics or chemistry – which are project-oriented subjects – they want a hands-on experience, and it is important to be able to do this.
As a follow-up, I would like to ask you not to stop doing this as a state and to continue to supply schools with learning, laboratory and project equipment. This is very important, and this work is underway. Many schools have been fully equipped, but others are still waiting for 3D printers, in particular. We did not have these when I was a child.
On the other hand, you also need to be able to handle new materials. You need not only to know your subject; you also need to be able to teach it and to convey the technology, which is why refresher courses and retraining are important as well. I would like the state to continue its efforts to make sure that we, as a country, achieve technological breakthroughs across all these areas.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Kashezhev, we will continue to do this. There is nothing to add, you said it all. This applies to the equipment, and not just 3D printers, but other equipment as well.
You know, whenever I find myself in a school building, I enjoy looking at this. Not just you, but also I and the people of my generation never had anything like that. It is a feast for the eyes. However, this does not mean that we should be satisfied with our achievements. We will definitely continue to bring technological equipment and the latest technological devices to schools, make them part of the curricula and letting you use them.
With regard to training and refresher courses, the ministry has quite an extensive programme in this regard. If Mr Kravtsov feels like adding something now, I will be happy to turn it over to him.
Minister of Education Sergei Kravtsov: Mr President, indeed, equipment is being supplied under your instructions and major overhauls of rural schools are underway, and properly equipped new schools are being built as well. Extensive and system-wide work, under the national project, is underway to provide training and advanced training. The winners of the Teacher of the Year competition will, of course, be part of these efforts as well.
Vladimir Putin: The last point the Minister made is very important. Friends, you will be part of this noble cause to improve the teaching process. Your ideas about ways to organise the technical side of things are important, and we will try to take them into consideration as well.
I suggest that we close our meeting now.
Once again, congratulations to all of you on your results, and happy Teacher’s Day to all the teachers in our country.
All the best.