October 08, 2023

Integration through Education?


Integration through Education?
Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian Life files.

In an October 4 speech honoring Russia's Teachers of the Year, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for increased efforts to support education in regions recently annexed from eastern Ukraine.

"Supporting the educational system in these regions is extremely important," Putin said. "We need to help our colleagues catch up, and we must do everything we can to ensure that both schoolchildren and teachers become a part of the huge, common, unified educational space of our country.”

The regions in question were illegally added to the Russian Federation after their capture from Ukraine in the wake of Russia's invasion. The new administrations are set to be made up of hypernationalist officials, and, already, integration efforts have taken on some draconian forms.

What's more, the classroom has become one of the leading battlegrounds for Russian patriotism. Students expressing dissent from Russian ideology, even inadvertently, have faced punishment, and required extracurriculars seeking to promote "traditional values" and support for the state have become part and parcel of Russian education.

Veterans of the Ukraine war are being selected as a new generation of schoolteachers. And a new history textbook introduced this year, too, has increased Russia's nationalist fervor in public schools.

With these trends in mind, it is difficult not to see the growth of state-funded education in these regions as a stronghanded attempt at the integration of Ukrainian territories into Moscow's orbit.

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