Russian schoolchildren return to war-changed classrooms

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke of the importance of Moscow’s aggression against neighboring Ukraine as he sat in front of a group of children on his first day back at school in Russia’s Kaliningrad region on Thursday.

“On the territory of Ukraine today, an anti-Russian enclave is being created that threatens our country,” Putin said.

“Our units fighting there protect both the population of Donbass and Russia itself.”

Putin’s speech was part of the first “important conversation” held in Russian schools after the Ministry of Education unveiled a concept earlier this year aimed at fostering patriotism.

“Important conversations” include what Moscow calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine and a discussion of the virtues of “dying for the Motherland,” Education Minister Sergei Kravtsov said. said at the monthly meeting.

However, parents and teachers interviewed by the Moscow Times expressed concern over this “propagandistic” innovation, and one lawyer questioned its legality.

“It is wrong to talk to children about special operations in Ukraine. Children, in my opinion, are not the audience with which politics should be discussed,” said Alexandra, a fifth-grade teacher at a Moscow school. I was.

The weekly ‘Important Conversation’ is one of several changes being made in Russian schools amid the war in Ukraine and the Kremlin trying to rally support for the invasion.

Other changes include the hoisting of the Russian flag and the mandatory singing of the national anthem every Monday.

Kaliningrad President Vladimir Putin about to have an “important conversation.”

However, it was the “important conversation” class that caused the most resentment among teachers and parents.

“The teacher said my parents can go… I’m worried, so I’ll at least go to my first parents.” One Moscow parent told The Moscow Times.

“I was told if my parents didn’t like it. [the content]then you can write an application to the director so that the child does not have to go, ”the parent added.

material Posted An online survey by the Ministry of Education suggests that “important conversations” are designed to introduce children to the worldview of the Kremlin.

third graders in russia Said To learn that “the happiness of the motherland is more precious than life”, “there is no fear of dying for the motherland”, and about national heroes like Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

Many of these topics were addressed in a speech delivered to a schoolchild’s room on Thursday by pro-Kremlin TV host Vladimir Solovyov.

“We are the best country, not because we live better than anyone else,” said Solovyov, who has become one of the faces of Russian wartime propaganda. ready to die at any moment.”

Furthermore, according to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s materials, the older age group, starting in the fifth grade, is directly taught about “special military operations.”

this will include of special military operations “heroes” such as Colonel Alexander Romanov, who allegedly lured Ukrainian nationalists into the minefield, and how “military aid from Western groups increases the number of casualties.” discussion.

Teachers who spoke to the Moscow Times said they felt caught between following orders and defying instincts.

“I cannot declare that I am against these lessons,” said a teacher from Mytishchi, a small town near Moscow who requested anonymity to speak freely.

“I am not supported at school.”

Alexandra, a Moscow teacher, argued that “few people are ready to oppose the system,” even though she and many of her colleagues were “skeptical” of the change, adding that “there are no favorites.” You run the risk of losing a job or an opportunity to earn money.

Since February, many teachers across Russia have faced a backlash against their anti-war views.

Kamran Manafly, 28, a geography teacher, dismissed He lost his job after expressing his opposition to the war in March, and then fled the country. Penza teacher Irina Gen, 45 years old, received Last month, he was given a five-year suspended sentence for “spreading false information.”

Under a wartime censorship law passed in March, critics of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine could face up to 15 years in prison.

The Federation of Russian Teachers, an opposition union linked to imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, encouraged parents and teachers to boycott “important conversations” in an open letter published Wednesday.

“True patriotism cannot be planted in an atmosphere of hatred, fear and duty,” the letter said. “There is a big difference between patriotism and aggressive militarism. Tell them. [children] to see this difference. ”

The legality of changes being made to the education system has also been questioned by lawyers who refer to Russia’s constitution.

“This is a state ideological agitation and inoculation, as in Soviet times,” lawyer Mikhail Benyash told the Moscow Times.

“Not only children but also teachers are brainwashed.”

Despite the risks, some teachers are likely to quietly change the content of “important conversations” sessions, he told The Moscow Times.

“I will definitely redo these lessons, make them more interesting, and get rid of all the propaganda,” said the teacher at Mitishichi.

Moscow teacher Alexandra said politics is not a classroom topic.

“I know there are people who support special operations and there are people who oppose the government’s decision.

“Each of us has someone to talk to about this, but at school we deal with children.” Russian schoolchildren return to war-changed classrooms

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