Russia introduces weekly ‘patriotism’ classes for school children
Moscow, Sep 1 (EFE).- The Kremlin has introduced the obligatory hoisting of the Russian flag in all of the country’s schools, as well as a weekly class dedicated to patriotic education, an initiative that will be extended to the territories occupied by Russia in Ukraine where the school year began Thursday despite the ongoing war.
At a meeting with students in the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, Russian president Vladimir Putin remembered a KGB colleague who taught him that the main value in life is to “serve the motherland” without expecting anything in return.
Putin stressed the importance of editing history books with “reliable” information, like that Ukraine “never” had its own state until the creation of the Soviet Union, and called on all of society to support the current “special military operation,” the Kremlin’s term for the war.
At 8 o’clock in the morning the ceremony of hoisting the national flag took place for the first time in a school in the center of Moscow.
The ceremony, which will from now on take place every Monday with the flag lowered on Fridays, was imposed by the Ministry of Education after the beginning of the Russian “special military operation” in Ukraine to instill patriotism in Russian children from an early age.
The chosen flag bearers – outstanding students for their academic, intellectual and sports achievements – hoisted the red, white and blue banner on a flagpole installed to the right of the school building, before a Moscow deputy addressed the schoolchildren and, as tradition dictates, a girl from the first grade rang the bell on the shoulders of a boy from the last grade.
LESSONS IN PATRIOTISM
Controversy erupted in parents’ chat rooms when the education authorities announced that the school week would start every Monday with a patriotic class titled “Talking about what is important”, which critics consider mere “propaganda lessons”.
According to the curriculum published by the ministry, during that half hour, tutors are to promote national pride anchored in history, while tying lessons closely to the current military campaign, with texts, videos and songs.
Teachers should present testimonies of soldiers, so that students understand that “Russia’s military are heroes” and that “residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics are Russians” who need to be returned to Russia.
“Love the motherland, serve the motherland”, “The happiness of the motherland is more valuable than one’s own life” or “I am not afraid to die for the motherland” are just some of the answers expected from pupils, according to the ministerial methodology.
CALL FOR A BOYCOTT
In each school there will be an advisor to the principal who will be in charge of coordinating this patriotic drive, a role that some already compare to that of a political commissar during Soviet times.
Two teachers’ organizations on Thursday urged parents of pupils to boycott what they openly called the Kremlin’s “ideological project,” since it promotes that the main ideal for Russians is to serve the motherland, “often with weapons in their hands.”
They believe that the very definition of the military operation and the allusion to the “Kyiv regime” and Nato “have nothing to do with patriotic education” and point out that, according to the current legislation, “any propaganda in schools is forbidden”.
“We are convinced that true patriotism cannot be educated in an atmosphere of hatred, fear and imposition,” says the letter.
According to the press, some teachers have already denounced that these classes only promote servility towards the Russian leaders rather than boosting patriotism.
ANNEXATION BEGINS AT SCHOOL
Despite the heavy fighting, Russian authorities decided to open the school year in more than 1,300 schools in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as in the occupied territories in the Ukrainian regions of Kharkiv and the southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhia, which is partially controlled by Russian forces.