Saturday, January 21, 2017

Russian austerity

By Stephen Wilson

Moscow, Russia -- The future perspectives for Russian schools appear alarming. In the coming year we can anticipate further rounds of rising cut backs, arrears in salaries within the regions , more unfair dismissals and a never ending workload along with a poorer pay packet . The past statements by the new Minister of Education over the past three months appear to confirm, rather than dispel such fears. In recent days, Olga Vasiliava has announced that the Government intends to severely cut the budget in Education until 2020. The plan is to cut the total budget by 20% - which impiles a reduction from 113 billion to 86.6 billion rubles . The government intends to make cuts in maintenance and repairing schools as well as in colleges and universities.
Particularly vulnerable students are those with special needs who will be forced to move from special schools geared to their needs, into regular state schools . Special schools for invalids and troubled teenagers have already been axed. The number of psychologists, speech therapists and and counsellors attached to Russina state schools has also been drastically cut.
There are also new proposals concerning how school teachers will be paid.
In the future, teachers will receive regularly 70 % of their salary while 30% of the rest of their income will be based on 'bonuses' and 'rewards' on how well they perform in school. The latter form of payment will be based on the exam results of their school students and how well they do in tests. If the teacher's school students get good marks , then they'll be entitled to bonuses. Needless to say , this proposal is highly problematic and hardly free from bias. We are more likely to witness simulated rather than stimulated pay !
So schools are gradually moving to accepting performance pay where their students are perceived as consumers based on a crude business model.
According to the Russian Newspaper Kommersant, sources from within the Ministry of Education stated that the former Minister of Education was fired for precisely refusing to implement a program of full scale cuts in Education.
(see Ogonek, number 49. 12th of December 2016 , Hero of the Week, Initiative ,Olga Vasiliava, )
He wasn't hard enough !
Yet the reality of those harsh proposals has been largely obscured by a conspicuous publicity relations exercise where the current Minister of Education has been ranting about reviving astronomy, history , the importance of schools in not simply imparting knowledge but bringing up ,the nature of patriotism and how Stalin had some redeeming feactures . All this talk conceals an ugly full -scale plan to cut and commercialise the education system. There is even talk of making schools 'self -financing' and 'self -sufficent'. Where have we heard of this old and obsolete rhetoric ? In both Britain and America ! And the results have been appalling ! Some people just never learn!

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