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Education for all

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The silence of Russian educators

Libraries have organized discussions for teachers - but none about their rights

Reading Maria’s entry where a teachers’ strike was discussed made me think about dissatisfaction with the Russian education system – both from teachers and others.

What surprises and worries me most is that our teachers never organize strikes or try to make their voices be heard. It happens neither in small cities nor in big ones. I know that most of our university professors do some tutoring or give private lessons throughout the year to earn additional money (for example, before high school students enter a university, their parents often find somebody to give a term-training course to prepare a teenager for the entrance examination). I think a collective demand for better salaries or modern equipment is reasonable – it might result in improving the situation in the whole region (or even several regions), and it is not about giving benefits to any single teacher.
But let’s take a step back – to high school. Several years ago, the process of examination was modernized: Pupils used to take final school exams in June and university entrance exams in July. It meant they had to spend at least 2 months with nerves on end both intellectually and emotionally. Moreover, it seemed to give more dangerous possibilities for corruption: the more links in a chain there are, the more complicated the system is. That makes it easier to find a hole and turn it to one’s advantage.

Forms for the new Unified State Exams

After the so-called reform, the standard pattern of final exams – the Unified State Exam (USE) – was introduced, and the results one earns have replaced the old entrance exams. The government claimed that the new exam would provide students from provinces with more opportunities to study in well-known universities; also, it was supposed to eliminate corruption as the exam marks are not given directly by your teacher but are sent to a special committee that releases its grades only after several days have passed. However, the USE is designed as a set of tests of different types. It is obvious that tests are not enough to discover a student’s creative potential; in fact, they actually obscure creative skills. What about those who want to dive into studying music or arts?

In spite of concerns like these and parents’ complaints, the USE was instated. Recently, there has been a rumor that it may be divided into different levels – from easier to more difficult. I’m afraid it’ll bring back fertile ground for corruption – who on Earth doesn’t want to say they’ve gotten high marks..?

I believe teachers will make their voices heard on the issues relating to the USE. And since we live in a civil society, citizens’ voices on the whole need to be heard. But the question for me is: How much time will it all take?

Date

June 22, 2012 | 4:00 pm

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