Staunton, September 4 – Seven hundred of the 1450 schools in the North Caucasus republic of Daghestan have to operate with double shifts, and 16 more have to operate on a three-shift basis because there are far more children than there are schools. And many of these schools are in horrific condition.
These figures provide a useful correction to the mistaken conclusions Russian commentators routinely offer and that some in the West accept without thinking about fertility rates in the North Caucasus and the changing relative size of the predominantly Muslim peoples of that region and the ethnic Russian nation.
It is true that fertility rates are falling in the North Caucasus with the number of children women in each succeeding generation declining, but that by itself does not mean that the population explosion there has ended. It has only eased as a simple arithmetic calculation will show.
If Daghestani women have only three children each now compared with five or six a generation ago, there will still be five or six having three children for a total of 15 to 18 children in that succeeding generation. That contrasts with rates among ethnic Russians where fertility rates are below 1.5 children per woman and hence only 1.5 times 1.5 additional pupils.
This divergence is especially obvious in Daghestan, the most Muslim republic in the Russian Federation. The new statistics, assembled from government agencies by the Kavkaz-Uzel agency, are a striking indication of just how large the new rising generation of non-Russians there is.
Because the authorities have not invested in schools – 657 Daghestani schools don’t have indoor toilets, 184 don’t have water supplies, and 40 percent have no emergency medical supplies – many Daghestani children are now forced to go to school in shifts (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/288574/ and sobkorr.ru/news/57C96C10EE114.html).
Moreover, 119 schools in Daghestan are officially recognized as being in danger of collapse. And in one case, where a school burned down because there was no local fire brigade, local residents have been trying to build a replacement but to date at least, Kavkaz-Uzel reports, it is in bad condition.
Despite promises by the authorities to eliminate double and triple shifts, the numbers of children in them in Daghestan are going up. In 2013, 1839 Daghestanis were forced to go to the third shift for their schooling; now, some 2370 are.
But if the authorities can’t find money to repair schools, they have found it to open special classes to train young Daghestanis on Cossack traditions. Students from more than 30 different nationalities are learning how to become Cossacks, a reminder that the widespread assumptions that Cossacks are just Russians are wrong (nazaccent.ru/content/21770-pervyj-v-dagestane-kazachij-klass-otkrylsya.html).