September 18, 2023

From Trenches to Schools


From Trenches to Schools
Russian soldiers wearing Ratnik infantry combat system. Vitaly V.Kuzmin, Wikipedia Commons

A new program is coming to Russian schools: soldiers back from the front lines in Ukraine will now train students in military and defense.

Sergei Kravtsov, Minister of Education, announced the establishment of a professional retraining program for veterans, in which they will become teachers of "Fundamentals of Security and Defense of the Motherland."

This program will be taught at the State University of Education in Moscow.

In July, the State Duma amended a law "On Education in the Russian Federation." Changes included the rebranding of the subject "life safety" to "Fundamentals of Security and Defense of the Motherland." This revamped curriculum not only encompasses emergency response, but also incorporates education on the armed forces. The program includes physical fitness training and basic military drills.

The decision to retrain former war veterans into teachers is not an isolated case of militarism permeating Russian schools. Since the start of Russia's war in Ukraine, significant changes have occurred within the Russian educational system.

One notable addition is the introduction of a mandatory extracurricular activity called "Conversations About Important Matters." There, children are taught about the "special military operation" in Ukraine, patriotism, and traditional values. In 2022, President Vladimir Putin himself conducted the inaugural lesson, discussing the events surrounding Russia's War on Ukraine, calling the 2014 revolution a military coup, and saying that Russia’s role in the war was to resolve the situation in Donbas.

Furthermore, there has been a proliferation of memorials dedicated to the fallen "heroes" of the war in schools across the nation. A national history textbook has been approved that characterizes modern Ukraine as an "ultra-nationalist state."

Teachers who resist engaging in militaristic propaganda face reprisals, and parents have searched for ways to protect their children from propaganda.

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