Staunton, Aug. 1 – Experts at the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service say that the country faces a teacher shortage of as much as 250,000 this fall, but Sergey Kravtsov, the minister responsible for primary and secondary education, denies that there is any shortage or any problem with staffing at all.
According to Nakanune journalist Elena Rychkova, this difference in opinion reflects differences in the way the number of teachers needed should be calculated. The experts who point to the massive shortage say that teachers should only teach a certain number of pupils and only courses for which they are trained (nakanune.ru/articles/119371/).
Using those criteria, the figure of 250,000 is entirely justified. Those who say there is no shortage point out that in many schools, teachers can and do teach more pupils than the norm and often teach courses they hadn’t been trained for in pedagogical institutes but are entirely capable of handling. Indeed, they say, this saves the government money but makes for good schools.
The problem is that the denial by officials of a problem ensures that things will only get worse and soon. Ever more teachers are leaving the field because of overwork, the teaching cadres are aging and many will soon go on pensions, and ever fewer of those trained to become teachers are going into the field.
Kravtsov’s predecessor acknowledged as much three years ago, but she said that Russia would have a shortfall of teachers amounting to 250,000 would occur only in 2029. It has happened seven years earlier, and primary and secondary education fails a likely collapse with work actions by teachers and anger among parents and their children likely in the near future.