Staunton, May 8 – Healthcare is not the only place where Vladimir Putin’s “optimization” programs have left Russia in an impossible and even dangerous place. The same thing is true in the educational system: there are too few teachers and class sizes have grown too large to make distance learning possible.
A teacher in normal times can barely keep order with 30 or more students as Russian instructors now have to; they cannot oversee instruction of anything like that number when it comes to the distance learning required by the pandemic-imposed restrictions, Aleksey Roshchin says (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5EB4F77F2B4C0).
Ideally, the Russian commentator says, teachers should have responsibility for no more than ten pupils; but because of cutbacks in the schools even in Moscow, there simply aren’t enough teachers to allow for that. And this has meant that teachers have been forced to try to shift the burden to parents, many of whom have no interest or ability to take it on.
This Russia-wide problem, Roshchin says, lies behind a curious order issued by Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin on April 28. In it, he ordered that distance learning be stopped from May 1 to May 11 and then that the school year end on May 15. (For the complete text of Sobyanin’s order, see rg.ru/2020/04/28/moscow-ukaz51-reg-dok.html.)
This reflects not the May holidays but rather the mayor’s decision to defer to parents (voters) who don’t like being held responsible for their children’s schooling and who have flooded his office with complaints. Sobyanin can’t admit there are too few teachers or increase their number, so he simply has suspended the school year early.
That might seem a small thing, but it is anything but. If the pandemic continues or returns, Russian school children are going to lose out on key months of their schooling not because of the disease but because of the policies of Vladimir Putin. And even if the pandemic does end relatively quickly, many are going to find their educations disrupted.
Even more, many educational leaders in other countries are suggesting that the distance learning the pandemic has force started may become a larger part of the educational arrangements. Some countries are ready for this; but Russia isn’t. And so because of Putin’s policies, Russia will fall even further behind the rest of the world.