Saturday, June 10, 2017

School Almost Out!

By Stephen Wilson

 Moscow -- "Ooorah It is the end of school ! We are free ! No more homework ! We can do what we want!"
shout many Russian school students . You notice their beaming cheerful radiant faces looming
up everywhere . At least that is how the younger school students may feel. In contrast to
school children in Britain who can only expect around 8 weeks Summer holidays , Russian
children obtain 3 months off ! At least that is what it seems . In practice , you can find
many children are sent off to educational Summer camps or English courses abroad. Not
all children are entitled to a break . Worn out children can be noticed dozing off in classrooms.
How to bring up a new generation of docile school children who faithfully obey the state
remains a challenging issue for the government. Many children have minds of their own
and even question the powers to be . When some school children took to the streets in
protests at state corruption the government became alarmed . The speaker of the Duma,
Valentina warned : "Responsibility for taking part in unsanctioned meetings
must lie with the parents" . There was talk about drawing up new legislation carrying
legal reprisals for bringing up such children ' improperly. ' In other words, not bringing them
up to support Putin. The notion that children have a right to an opinion of their own is an
alien concept to Russian politicians. Children should not be seen and not be heard. They
should also shut up. According to the Minister of Education : "Childhood should be
non-political '. Children should be immersed in books and not discussing politics.
All those kinds of speeches actually incite children to escalate their protests. Forbidden
fruit often tastes better than freely granted food .

This year, as many as 700,000 school students graduated from school. This represented
less than 40,000 from the previous year indicating Russia is still plagued with a persistent
demographic problem. In some ways school children are more acutely perceptive of
what is going on that adults who are set in their ways. They can detect a lie better. It
is difficult to lie to children. Like the child in the Hans Christen Anderson tale , they can
see the Emperor is not wearing clothes. But they are not always free of illusions. 

According  to a recent Russian social survey , most Russian school students believe that after they
graduate from a good university they will automatically attain a job with the high pay of
80,000 rubles a month. Access to university is often equated with meeting a golden fish
who can grant every wish ! They are also attempting to enter professions which are
flooded with too many applicants : like as advocates, economists , and in finance. Very few of
them seek to enter the less prestigious and less well paid jobs in forestry , farming and
engineering where there exist greater shortages and needs. Yet after graduating from
university, 40 % of graduates in law and 20 % of economists can't find work even after
a year. You can find them working in low paid fast food restaurants and in bookshops !
Yet Russian needs more experts in fishing, farming and forestry .

If you stay in Moscow for a long time what you can't help noticing is how many
ex-journalists there are. Asked why they don't do journalism they claim it is not creative.
Perhaps the market is just flooded with too many journalists !

Maybe the government needlessly worries about controlling children. Parents already
strictly control them or are at least attempting to. A recent survey by Levada found that
32% of adults punish their children physically while 24% did this severely . As many as
54% of adults claim to check their children's letters, look at their own things and even
check their pockets for unwanted things. As many as 47% of parents admit they have the
right to forbid them from meeting their friends, and choosing who they can befriend.

The only form of freedom children are allowed is to earn money. As many as 24%
of parents put the money into the family budget. It is evidently not easy to be a Russian
school child.

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