Any day now, possibly even tomorrow, we are expecting BIG Russian offensive, maybe even on two fronts. But let us use this “operational pause” to discuss an issue more pleasant than war: Getting the kids ready for the start of the school year. This is an especially challenging job in the recently “liberated” (or “occupied”, depending on one’s POV) territories such as Kherson, Zaporozhie, and parts of the Kharkov Oblast. The challenge for the provisional governments therein consists in providing two possible tracks of education for the regional youngsters: Iinstruction in the Ukrainian language; or instruction in the Russian language.
When it comes to the latter, the textbooks already exist, so that’s not a problem, but the local teaching cadres may not necessarily be certified in teaching according to Russian standards. (Since they have been working under the Ukrainian system.) Hence, they need to be brought up to speed. When it comes to the former (the Ukrainian educational track), the problems are doubled, because all the old textbooks must be scrapped and new ones brought in.
Authorities are addressing these issues at the highest levels of the Russian government, and with especial urgency, given that the start of the school year is approaching faster than a whirlwind. The person who bears the main responsibility on her shoulders is the current Minister of Education for the Crimean Republic.
Valentina Lavrik was born in the Ukraine in 1969. She graduated, in 1995, from Simferopol State University with a degree in “Education of Ukrainian language and literature”; and also “Education of Russian language and literature”. She also has a Minor in “Methology” and “Applied Psychology”. In December of 2019 Valentina Vasilievna was appointed Minister of Education, Science and Youth, for the Crimean Republic.
Lavrik: “In Crimea we have author collectives who wrote the textbooks for Ukrainian language and literature for Grades 5-9. These textbooks are currently being evaluated in the Institute of Native Languages in Moscow. We are expecting [the results of this evaluation]. The Institute has confirmed that [the books] will be ready [on time].”
yalensis: In truth, this is all a bit confusing, because I am not sure if we are talking about textbooks written in the Ukrainian language about the Ukrainian language; or textbooks written in Russian about the Ukrainian language. Logically speaking, there are 4 possibilities: a Russian book teaching you Russian; or a Russian book teaching you Ukrainian, or a Ukrainian book teaching you Russian, or a Ukrainian book teaching you Ukrainian. Got that? [Allude to that old joke where the little English schoolboy is told he must attend class in English, and he says, “But I already know how to speak English!”]
A Deficiency Of Cadres
Now, when it comes to teaching Ukrainian Language/Literature, in whichever language, Lavrik can draw upon the experience of the curriculum developed in the Crimea since 2014. Where they had to scrap textbooks produced in the Ukraine proper, due to the nauseating ideological content. When it comes to teaching Russian, the problem is that (due to rampant Ukrainization) they don’t have enough Russian textbooks in the newly liberated territories. Especially since many families there want to switch their children to studying in Russian, now that they have that option again. Lavrik: “The Russian Minister of Enlightenment has already assured us that all the children in the liberated territories will receive textbooks.”
The main problem looming is a deficiency of teacher cadres, those trained to instruct classrooms in the Russian language. Lavrik: “The Academy in Eupatoria attached to the Ministry of Enlightenment, just yesterday started conducting courses [to train teachers], and this work is moving along systematically. But that’s just the first step. Every week new groups of teachers will be taking courses to raise their qualifications; taking into account differences in the way subjects are taught in Russia and the Ukraine. These courses will help [the teachers] adapt to the new regulations and be compliant.”
VZGLIAD reporters received the scoop, that the first batch of teachers to arrive at the certification courses in Eupatoria, were some unlucky pedagogues from the Kherson and Zaporozhia Oblasts, as well as teachers already residing in Crimea and Sebastopol.
The purpose of these certifications is to standardize all education conducted in the Russian Federation, LPR, DPR, and the liberated territories. Pedagogues will learn the curriculum of the Federal Governmental Educational Standard (Федеральный государственный образовательный стандарт – ФГОС), which sets the basis for beginning grades and also in specific subjects.
Russia’s Minister of Enlightenment, Sergei Kravtsov, reassured parents that the schools in the liberated territories will continue to teach Ukrainian: “Schoolchildren who wish to learn the Ukrainian language, will be allocated an appropriate number of hours for that,” Kravtsov declared during a recent trip to Melitopol (in Zaporozhian Oblast). “It is often said that we are brotherly peoples, and that we have much in common, the same roots. The Ukrainian language is very rich, and interesting. Therefore there will not be any ban on its use, nor can there ever be.”
Again, it is a little confusing here, but I think Kravtsov is talking about mainly Russian-track schools allocating x number of hours per week to teach Ukrainian language and literature, but only as optional subjects. I have read about similar reforms undertaken in Mariupol, where there were not many takers for the Ukrainian track offered. “The Ukrainian language in the liberated territories will remain a native (e.g., state) tongue,” Kravtsov insists. However: “The schoolchildren of the Zaporozhie Oblast will undergo instruction according to Russian standards, as these guarantee a high quality of education.”
And here one needs to remind people that Russian education stadards are considered among the best in the world. I mean, I don’t know if it’s better than in, say, India or China, but it’s definitely superior to what passes for “schooling” in the United States.
Just for comparison, note the ages at which calculus is taught:
Children in Russia generally get these steps:
1. Primitive calculus: addition/subtraction and multiplication/dividing natural numbers under hundred at age 6-7
2. Solving linear equations at age 8-9
3. Primitive geometry, solving linear equations systems, solving square equations – age 10-13
4. Lots of trigonometry at age 13-14
5. Beginnings of mathematical analysis: integral calculus (definite/indefinite Riemann integral), differential calculus (first derivatives), learning integral/derivative tables – age 14-17