Staunton, Oct. 26 – Vladimir Putin has decreed that teachers should be paid the same amount that other workers in the reigons where they work are paid; but because in rural areas, salaries are only a third of what they are in Moscow, teachers are fleeing rural schools to seek employment in those in the Russian capital, Aleksey Ovchinnikov says.
As a result, many regions in Russia face a serious shortage of teachers, forcing administrators to continue to use pensioners or others who may not be qualified to meet the responsibilities of the school system, the Komsomolskaya pravda journalist says (kp.ru/daily/28351/4498678/).
This problem is especially acute in the demographically declining Russian regions near the capital from which teachers can most easily move to the city; but it affects almost all regions and has generated calls for paying teachers the same in all places so they won’t leave or restoring the Soviet-era practice of assigning graduates to work in less desirable places.
Establishing equal pay across the country would constitute yet another unfunded mandate for already hard-pressed regional governments as well as challenging a Putin order. Consequently, it is unlikely to happen. And that makes a return to Soviet practices increasingly likely, Ovchinnikov says.
But if that Soviet policy is returned, it will not only infuriate many Russian young people but it will do little to solve the problems in the school system outside of the capital. That is because, once again as in Soviet times, those forced to teach in rural schools will in many cases flee to the cities as soon as they can.
In the meantime, the pupils in schools in the regions will suffer, adding yet another factor to the growing imbalance between them and their counterparts in the capital.