Country Report Russia - (Associated Partner)

Involve Parents – Improve School

               Country Report Russia
               (Associated Partner)

Is parental involvement in the making of school laws and/or
regulations a current topic?
This synopsis covers the main activities aimed at      Parent-school representatives from a number of
involving parents in school. Russian school laws       schools are members of the city parents' commit-
and regulations usually focus on parental involve-     tee.
ment in general. Though parents with a low
schooling profile as well as with a migrant back-      In Perm, for example, the "city parents" committee
ground demand particular attention, they are           consists of 14 members. They are representatives
rarely involved in parents' associations or groups.    from the schools' parents' committees. Every
                                                       month the committee holds an all-city parents'
In recent times, however, school authorities have      conference which gathers parents from all schools
begun to realise that these parents have to be         of the city (about 150-200 participants).
motivated to take part in the school process to
help their children to be successful. In the Russian
Federation there is the Ministry of Education and      Which parents deserve special attention?
there are regional ministries (departments or
committees) of education in different areas of the     Special attention is given to the work with mi-
Russian Federation.                                    grant parents whose children attend school. The
                                                       facts and figures mentioned here refer to either
Parental involvement in decision making is clearly     Russia as a whole or, to projects realized in various
defined by the Federal Law "On Education" and          regions, cities or schools.
regional education laws in all Russian schools.
                                                       Russian school laws and regulations usually focus
Special attention in school regulations is given to    on parental involvement in general. There are no
the duties and responsibilities of parents.            specific laws or regulations which focus on mi-
                                                       grant parents' involvement in school life. How-
On national, regional and school levels the ques-      ever, in recent times many initiatives and projects
tion of parents' participation in school life is one   have appeared which deal with migrant prob-
of the most important. Teachers, students and          lems, particularly, migrant children problems.
their parents are considered to be participants in
the teaching process in which everyone has             In Russia, there is no clarity on the issue of what
his/her own responsibility.                            denotes a migrant. Migrants are people who are
                                                       citizens of Russia but have moved to another area
Parental institutions consist of the parent-class      to live (they do not cross the Russian border-
representative and the parent-school representta-      line).They feel foreigners in their own country
tive. Parent-class representatives form the School     because of the attitude of local communities with
Parents' Council (Committee) which plays an im-        which they try to integrate. There is another big
portant role in many school decisions. The propor-     group of children and parents who need special
tion of parents in a school board depends on the       attention from school.
number of students.

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National minority                                         The attention migrant parents get at school differs
                                                          in various schools. Most school authorities do not
Families with a first language / culture different from   yet realize the urgency of working with migrants.
Russian (tatars, bashkir, komi etc).                      So the amount of attention (schooling profile) mi-
                                                          grant parents' gain from school is rather low.
In the Russian language we use both words: the
word "immigrant" and the word "migrant". Immi-            However, in recent times in some schools, the au-
grants are people who have left their native land         thorities have begun to realise that these parents
and come to Russia.                                       have to be motivated to take part in the school
                                                          process to help their children to be successful.
Immigrants could conveniently be divided into 4
                                                          Are there any measures to support certain
1. "Gastarbeiters" from the former Soviet                 pupils ie. (im)migrants, ethnic minorities at
   republics as well as from China and some               school level?
   Southeast Asian nations.
2. people who have come from the so-called "sur-          A big wave of immigration is one of the tenden-
   plus manpower parts of Russia", mainly from the        cies of social changes in the Russian Federation.
   North Caucasus.
3. (less conspicuous) those who in the past 16            The tasks of social adaptation and pedagogical
   years have found an opportunity to return to           support of migrants are quite new for many
   their motherland which they suddenly lost              schools in Russia as well as in the world.
   following the breakup of the Soviet union in
   1991.                                                  Pedagogical support is being realized in the
4. 24 million Russians living outside Russia who          following ways:
   can and should be regarded as potential
   immigrants.                                            Socio-cultural support = acquaintance with the
                                                          culture, language, ways of conduct of the resi-
There is another big group of children and                dence country.
parents who need special attention from school.
                                                          Language support and specific subjects teaching =
National minority                                         bilingual teaching (the language of the majority
                                                          and the language of the migrants). It helps stu-
Families with a first language/culture different from     dents in school progress and helps to overcome
Russian (tatars, bashkir, komi etc).                      difficulties in learning.
Children whose parents belong to one of these             Parents' involvement = migrant families help their
groups have similar problems:                             children to overcome difficulties at school. They
                                                          take responsibility for their children's progress
  difficulties in learning Russian                        and for the adaptation to the multinational and
  difficulties in being adapted to another culture        multicultural environment.
  problems with school subjects
                                                          The majority of migrants in the Russian Federation
Evidently they all need special attention and care        are citizens of the former Soviet Union and they
at school.                                                are well acquainted with the language and culture

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of Russia. This makes it easier for them to become     Basic structure of the Russian school
integrated and study in Russian schools.               system
Recently more and more migrants who have               Access to quality education is a human right. Edu-
come to Russia have a poor knowledge of the            cation affects all types of human development
Russian language and many difficulties in adap-        outcomes. More than just a source of knowledge,
ting themselves to life in Russia.                     education enables children to realise their full po-
                                                       tential as adults.
Migrant children study in all types of Russian
schools: state schools where the Russian language      Russia inherited from the former Soviet Union a
is taught as the state language, national schools      solid educational system.
where Russian is taught as the second (the first is
their mother tongue) and the so-called "schools        The soviet school focused on being integrated
with an ethnic component".                             and standardised throughout the country. An
                                                       education "common for all" sacrificed opportuni-
The main problem why most migrant children             ties for versatility and differentiation among the
have a low academic performance is absence of          regions or for consideration of individual stu-
systematised compensatory teaching of migrants.        dents' needs. The teachers' academic freedom
In schools where national and cultural peculiari-      was also limited because the system strove for the
ties are taken into consideration the progress of      same educational standard.
migrant children is higher.
                                                       In 1992 Russia initiated steps to significantly re-
Those migrant children who do not do well at           form its educational system, with a fundamental
school subjects and consequently have a low            principle of the reform being the removal of state
academic performance demand special attention          control from education policy, enabling schools to
from teachers. In order to help such children,         be more attuned to the needs of the regions and
special measures should be taken to compensate         the nationalities they were serving.
the lack of Russian language knowledge. Among
the steps undertaken in schools we can mention         One of the most important goals has been to de-
                                                       velop state standards for basic and secondary
  extra-curricula lessons with migrant children        education, including federal guidelines on mini-
  individual lessons at which the teacher              mum curriculum requirements.
  organises special training for a migrant student
  a set of individual tasks to develop necessary       A key document in Russia's education system
  language skills (e.g. a glossary of important        framework is the Federal Law "On Education".
  terms; a two-language vocabulary, texts written
  in two languages etc)                                In the Russian Federation there are two types of
  organising a summer Russian language school          programmes:
  for migrant children
                                                         General education (primary and secondary)
If a school has a system in place for working with       Professional (undergraduate and
migrants, i.e. does this work regularly, analyses        graduate/post-doctoral).
and estimates the results, it (the school) has fewer
problems with migrant children's schooling.

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General education comprises 3 stages:                     Primary general education and Basic general
  Pre-school education (usually involving 4 years         education are mandatory for all citizens of Russia.
  of schooling, starting at 6 or 7 years old)             The official name of general education schools is
                                                          "secondary general schools".
  Basic general education (involving 5 years of
  schooling, 10 to 15 years old, through grade 9)         Professional education involves programmes
  Secondary (complete) general education                  which lead to diplomas or to diplomas and
  (involving usually 2 years of schooling, 15 to 17       degrees, as well as to professional qualifications,
  years old, grades 10 to 11).                            and give the right to exercise professions.

Statistics (2005-2006)

 Type of schooling                          Number of educational               Number of students
 Pre-school educational institutions                  46.518                        4,5 million
 General educational institutions                     62.500                      15,6 million
 Institutions of vocational and non-
                                                       2.631                        2,4 million
 university level higher education

Statistics on parental involvement and school             in school life together with all the other parents of
achievement                                               a school.

At present there are no nationwide statistics on          At each school and each class there are those pa-
parental involvement in Russia. Regional and              rents who are very seriously concerned about the
school statistics say that about 4 or 5 parents out       training and education of their children. As a rule,
of 25-30 are members of the class parents' board.         it is non-working mums or close relatives (aunts,
The School parents' council consists of representa-       grandmothers), who are fully focused on the de-
tives from every class. The number depends on             velopment of a child.
the number of classes in school. One parent from
the school board goes to the city parents' council.       Some researchers directly connect the interest of
                                                          parents to school with their real participation in
There are no statistics on the involvement of             training the children. But are there many exam-
parents with a migrant background.                        ples of how parents help their children's teachers?
                                                          Unfortunately not many at present, but with the
                                                          development of alternative forms of education
Projects and measures to foster parental                  (external studies, home training) more and more
involvement                                               parents display readiness to master this role and
                                                          "to unload" the teacher.
The majority of projects on parental involvement
aim at parents in general. There are no special           Training of parents is expedient at that moment
projects for parents with a migrant and/or ethnic         when, taking action in their child's first class – as
background. These groups of parents are involved          their child passes that certain social hurdle – and

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adults are full of determination to educate him/         essays, compositions about their native land, tra-
her. They have many questions about the perfor-          ditions, customs etc.
mance of homework, and they are very benevo-
lently concerned about school.                           On a regional level:
                                                         The programme "Family and children of the Perm
What practical skills do modern parents lack?            region",,
First of all it is those skills required to help their     The programme "Development and harmonisa-
child cope with educational programs; the de-              tion of national relations in the Perm region"
velopment of skills for creating effective dialogue        (2008-2010 – several items of the programme
with the child; use of legal knowledge in the field        are about how to unite the efforts of teachers,
of education.                                              students and parents in creating the atmos-
                                                           phere of tolerance and cooperation in schools.
There are numerous projects and measures on                Parents' association "Parents' Home" (
various levels to foster parental involvement.    – the
Some examples:                                             association is located in one of the Perm
                                                           schools. See below examples of how it works.
On a national level:                                       Social Centre "Agreement" (Soglasiye) – to
 The Russian Government project (programme)                develop a tolerant attitude to migrant people.
 "Main trends in social policy" aimed at                   The centre is located in the city library. The
 improving the children's position in Russia" till         centre members organise training seminars,
 2010.                                                     round-table discussions with migrants. There is
 Interregional contest of projects "Dialogue – a           a voluntary reception centre ( !"#$%&#''()
 way for understanding'. Integration of migrants           *+,#-'()) where migrants can get advice or
 by education means 480 teachers and students              consultation.
 took part in the contest.
                                                         On a school level:
Education means are pedagogical methods of                Parents' association (see: www.schools.
helping migrant children to learn how to adapt. , http://ced.
Main tasks of the contest:                                Programme "Feedback" – its aim is to create and
 to learn about how schools contribute to socio-          develop various forms of parents' involvement
 cultural adaptation of migrants                          in school management. The school launched
 to raise the competence of teachers, parents             this project in 1997 in order to involve parents
 and students in migrant adaptation problems              and make them active participants and part-
 to expand the knowledge of teachers, students            ners.
 and parents about the national originality and           s/s4-5.htm
 distinctiveness of migrants                              Parents' Council – participation of parents in
 to develop feelings of tolerance, justice,               school management (upravlyayushy soviet) –
 aspiration to a dialogue, mutual understanding           Parents' Councils have been set up in all schools
 and cooperation.                                         in Perm region. Their aims are: The manage-
                                                          ment and development of the school together
Most projects were joint projects prepared by             with the school authorities. Parents take part in
students and parents, or by students, teachers            important decisions concerning curricula and
and parents. Participants displayed their pictures,       the choice of school books.

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Target groups                                             'Civic education'
 According to the statistics of the Federal Migra-        'Creating a tolerant atmosphere at school'
tion Service more than 6 000 migrants live in the         'Family education'
Perm region. They have come from Tadjikistan,
Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaidjan, Armenia, Mol-
dova, Georgia, Vietnam and China.                       Exemplary projects, measures or initiatives
                                                        to foster parental involvement
The majority of projects on parental involvement
aim at parents in general. There are no special
projects for parents with a migrant and/or ethnic
                                                        Programme 'Feedback'
background. These groups of parents are involved
in school life together with all the other parents of
                                                        The programme is being carried out at Perm
a school.
                                                        school ..59
Projects on parental involvement are mostly initia-
                                                        To create and develop various forms of parental
ted by
                                                        involvement in school management such as: an
  educational authorities on a national and regio-
                                                        expert group, a project group, conferences, tuto-
  nal level
                                                        rials, debates.
  municipal authorities
  civic and migrant associations                        Implementation
  schools and other educational institutions            Parents are involved in all activities. In project
                                                        groups they work out recommendations for im-
                                                        proving the school syllabus, in expert groups pa-
Parental involvement and intercultural                  rents together with teachers and pupils collect
learning as an issue in teacher education               data on various acute problems.
and in-service training
                                                        Project 'Formation of tolerant relations
Parental involvement is an important issue in           in society'
teacher education. Student teachers from tea-   
cher-training institutes attend the following
courses:                                                Aim
  Psychology of a national character                    To attract public attention to the problem of
  Raising children in a multinational school            tolerance in a multinational country.
  School and parents: types of interrelation
  between a teacher and parents.                        Implementation
  Problem families: ways of cooperation between           Contest 'Different but equal'. Participants –
  school and family.                                      students, teachers and parents from schools.
  Families with special needs (migrant families,          'The telephone of tolerance'. Aim – to create an
  one-parent families, etc)                               information field on the problem and to learn
                                                          various attitudes to the problem.
In-service institutions offer lectures on various         'The odd-man-out-game'. Aim – finding out
aspects of parental involvement within the                ways for the promotion of interaction between
framework of courses for teachers of all school           parents, teachers and students.

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School personnel and families of students with        competence. Naturally, young and inexperienced
problems, need to collaborate in order to maxi-       teachers have difficulties in establishing contacts
mise educational efforts. There are numerous          with parents. It is important to equip them with
reasons why parents need to be encouraged to          necessary methods and techniques.
participate in the educational process:
  Parents are key persons in the socialisation of     The project aims at helping teachers (mainly,
  their children                                      inexperienced) to acquire necessary skills in
  Parents know their children better than the         establishing relationship with parents. Following
  school personnel do                                 the guidelines a teacher receives knowledge and
  Children have a much greater chance for             gains experience in dealing with parents.
  success if their parents and school personnel
  maintain consistent expectations.                   Guidelines for a class teacher
                                                      Step 1 Collect information about a student's
Civic organisation "PARENTS' HOME" – a centre for             background (former school results,
parents' education.                                           abilities, his/her family, relations with
Children are taught Maths, languages, economics               classmates etc)
but are rarely (if ever) taught to be happy. Not      Step 2 Do an interview with teachers, the tea-
many parents know how to teach their children to              cher who taught in the class the previous
be happy. Many problems which children have                   year. Make a chart based on the data
originate from the family itself.                             which was collected during the interview.
                                                      Step 3 Do an interview with the psychologist,
The curriculum for parents' education includes 80             the doctor and teachers who gave extra-
lessons.                                                      curriculum lessons.
                                                      Step 4 Do a survey of the students' interests,
Aim                                                           needs, demands.
Teaching parents how to create the atmosphere         Step 5 Make a chart about the students' inte-
of comfort and love in a family, to work out rules            rests, demands.
for being a happy family.                             Step 6 Organise an excursion (a hiking tour or a
                                                              meeting) together with parents during
Lessons for parents:                                          which a plan is worked out for future joint
  The parental home is the beginning of               Step 7 The teacher learns from students if their
  everything.                                                 parents do not mind the teacher's visit to
                                                              their home (students write on cards what
  Two halves of a HAPPINESS.
                                                              their parents decided)
  Love for my child.                                  Step 8 Do an interview with every child to
  Parents' rights and children's rights.                      diagnose psychological, learning and
  Is it easy to be a parent?                                  other needs of the child.
  Look into Mummy's eyes.                             Step 9 Organise class meetings, parties with
  Who feels lonely in a family?                               parents and children.

Guidelines for class teachers (tutors)                First party – "Parents to children": Parents tell
The role of a class teacher in parental involvement   children about themselves, their families, tra-
is important. Much depends on his/her skills and      ditions of the families, show family photos.

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The response party – "Children to parents" – a          meetings with parents, arranging conferences
sport event where parents compete with children.        and having talks.)
At the end of the school year parents and stu-
dents discuss how effectively they have worked.         How to cope with the Russian language if it is
They then make plans for the next year.                 not your mother tongue (In the newspaper
                                                        article "Language memory must not be short:
                                                        How to avert interethnical conflicts" the author
Parental involvement as a public issue                  writes about how to teach children whose
                                                        mother tongue is not Russian. They emphasize
Parental involvement is a constant issue in the         the fact that the knowledge of the Russian lan-
Russian mass media.                                     guage if you live and work in Russia is of vital
                                                        importance. They also underline that in "nation-
The central "Teachers' Newspaper' ('Uchitelskaya        nal schools" it is significant to keep the balance
gazeta' ) often publishes issues about school and       between Russian language lessons and national
school problems and each month they devote              language lessons. So that, on the one hand,
one page to family-school problems. The range of        students could preserve their native language
problems, connected with parents' role in school        and culture and, on the other, could successfully
life is various, and within the last few years pro-     adapt themselves to the Russian language
blems of migrant children in Russian schools have       community.)
been raised. This interest has accelerated over the
last 3-5 years owing to a big wave of migration in    School-family interrelations (The newspaper ar-
Russia.                                               ticle "Necessity of cooperation with parents". The
                                                      school and family should come to a mutual un-
The following examples show the range of issues       derstanding and cooperation. The class teacher
related to migrant children problems, families and    writes how to build relations with a family.
their cooperation with school:
                                                      The author considers as the important factor in-
                                                      dividual work with parents. She suggests the
  Migrant children's adaptation in school ("On
                                                      following forms of interaction with parents:
  one side of the barricade" – the author of the
  article writes about how to achieve consent           Rendering support in the adaptation process
  with parents whose role in migrant children's         Consultations with the psychologist
  adaptation is important. Schools should work          Lectures at an educational lecture hall for
  hard in order to win parents' confidence and          parents
  trust. Parents and teachers should agree upon         Joint carrying out with children of parental
  the targets and values involved in a child's          assemblies
  upbringing and work together hand in hand on          Carrying out joint actions.
  its implementation. Among the forms of co-            Special attention is given to work with
  operation the author suggests holding regular         teenagers' parents.

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Glossary                                              Primary School / $!@!34$!1
Involve Parents – Improve School

Useful links                                            The website of the school for ethnical tolerance.
Ministry of Education and Science website. It con-      St Petersburg. Government programme raising
tains all the legal documents of national range         tolerant children"
mentioned in the synopsis (like the Law on Edu- 
cation). It also contains documents for accom-
panying, reinforcement and support programmes           "The Centre for civic education and people's
for Primary, Secondary and Higher Education.            rights".                                ,

Educational website of the Regional Department          Parents' association – the association of parents
of Education. It contains the full description of our   whose children attend Perm schools.
educational system. There are sections devoted to
families and sections devoted to cooperation be-
tween school and family. (The programme "Family         Programme "Feedback" – its aim is to create and
and children of the Perm region).                       develop various forms of parents' involvement in                                      school management.
The website of the City education department of 
Perm. There are special sections for families.               The programme "Family and children of the Perm
The Russian Language School for migrants which
is run by the city library with technical and didac-
tical support for the whole educational commu-
nity on measures for the special needs of immi-
grant and/or ethnic minority pupils.

The website of the Centre for international
education 'Etnosphera'.
Parents Home. The website of the voluntary
formation for parents in order to develop their
parental skills.

Regional Centre for tolerance and social security
whose main target is to deal with the mass media                    State Institute for Pedagogic and
on problems of tolerant relations in society.              Further Education (POIPKRO), Perm, Russia
                                                                                    Magarita Afanasyeva
Educational website for parental involvement                                          !

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