School and Education in Russia

Comprehensive reforms throughout Russia’s education system were undertaken in the 1990s. Politically marked subjects were removed, Soviet and Russian history was given a new approach, and previously banned literature was included in the teaching. Having had an extremely centralized education system, a decentralization process began in the mid-1980s. Following the school system adopted in 1992, the republics are practically self-governing with regard to the goals and content of the school’s teaching. To a large extent, curricula are now being developed locally based on national standards. Elective subjects were introduced, while all teaching was previously the same for everyone. In the Soviet Union, all educational institutions were state, but since the early 1990s a wide range of private schools have been established in Russia.

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There is a 9-year compulsory schooling, which must be taken at the age of 6/7-15 years. The primary school is usually 3 years old and begins when the children are 7 years old. Some start when they are 6 years old and have a 4-year primary school. The youth stage is 7 years old, divided into two (5 + 2 years). In 2001, approx. 92% of children in secondary school. The child and adolescent steps are usually carried out in undivided schools. From 15 to 18 years, students can either take courses that prepare for higher education, or vocational education. In addition to the graduation exam, students must take entrance exams to enter higher education.

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Higher education includes universities, polytechnic institutes and academic institutes. In 2000, there were 562 state and 667 private higher education institutions, among them 277 state universities. Most universities are located in the Moscow and St. Petersburg area. Mikhail Lomonosov University of Moscow was founded in 1755, the State University of St. Petersburg in 1819.


Aleksander 1 expanded the school system with new universities, colleges and elementary schools in the early 1800s. But already during Nikolai 1, the lower classes’ opportunities for teaching were curtailed. In 1864 a regulation on primary school education was introduced, but only just before the First World War began a faster development of the education system. Primary education for children aged 8-11 was made compulsory by law in 1908. Public schooling was supposed to have been introduced around 1925. In the meantime, the revolution came in 1917. See for all countries starting with R.

The new regime saw illiteracy as one of the biggest challenges in building the socialist state. No area gave the Soviet government a higher priority than the school system. While 3/4 of the population were illiterate at the end of the 19th century, they accounted for only 20% in 1940. Illiteracy is considered to be virtually eradicated from about 1960.

In addition to the Russian Federation, the Soviet Union consisted of the following republics, which are now independent states: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithaun, Georgia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Before the Slavic people entered the scene of history, the European part of the present Russian Federation, Belarus and Ukraine was inhabited by various peoples who were subject to invasions by females, Goths and Hungarians. The first mention of the slaves dates from the 6th century. The Byzantine writers refer to the existence of several Slavic chieftains of different peoples such as the Polians (centered in Kiev), the Drivlians, Drégovichis, Krívichis, Viátichis, the Merians and others.

The first Russian state formation

In the 9th century, the first Russian state known as the “Ancient Rus” or “Kiev Rus” was formed. It was formed as a result of the fighting against the jazars in the south and Scandinavians in the north. In the 9th century, the trade route between the Baltic and the Black Sea – the route between the “Scandinavians and the Greeks” – had gained European significance. In 882, Prince Oleg captured Novgorod Kiev and transferred the capital of the Russian state to this city. In 907 he signed an agreement that was favorable to the Russians. Oleg’s nephew, Sviatoslav ruled his own kingdom. In it, the fight against Byzan’s and Bulgaria assumed enormous dimensions.

Vladimir (980-1015) was the son of Sviatoslav and succeeded him on the throne. He consolidated the legal organization of the Russian state, the dynasty and the extent of the kingdom. In order to overcome the “pagan” Russia’s isolation against monotheistic Europe, in 988 Vladimir introduced Christianity as a state religion. He looked to himself the Byzantine Orthodox variant, distinguished by his beauty and pompousness. At the end of Vladimir’s reign, the Principality of Novgorod exhibited strong tendencies for independence. Vladimir’s successor to the throne, Sviatopolk killed 3 of his brothers – Boris, Gleb and Sviatoslav – to consolidate power, but the fourth brother, Yaroslav, Prince of Novgorod overthrew Sviatopolk and assumed supreme power in Kiev. At the same time, however, he gave Novgorod a number of powers. After his death, the feudal republic of Novgorod was established, the principals Vladimir-Suzdal, Galich-Volin and others In 1147, Moscow is mentioned in the Rostov-Suzdal Principality for the first time in the chronicles.

Mongol Lordship

In 1237, Tartar invaded Prince Batu – the nephew of Genghis Khan – the principals Riazan and Vladimir, occupied Moscow and a number of other Russian cities. The conquest of other Russian principals continued in 1239-40, and this began the yugo-tartar period, which would extend over the following 250 years. From the west, another danger threatened the Russians – from the Teutons and the Swedes. In 1242, Prince Alexandr of Novgorod defeated the Teutons in the famous “battle of the ice” on Lake Chudskoye near the Neva River. As a thank-you for the victory, he was named Nevski.

The Mongols did not rule directly, however, through local princes, Turkish chiefs, or Arab merchants operating in the region. They were given an authorization – “yarlik” – by the Mongols. In the early 14th century, the principalities of Tver, Moscow, Riazan and Novgorod existed. Tver and Moscow fought for the leadership during this period when the principals were still divided. Prince Dmitri of Moscow now began to gather forces to throw out the Tartars, but the princes of Tver, Nizhni Novgorod and Riazan opposed this. In 1378, Mamai Khan launched a criminal expedition against Russia, but was beaten.

Russian liberation

In 1380, Prince Dmitri of Moscow struck Mamai at the Battle of Kulikovo near the river Don. It marked the beginning of the liberation of Russia from the Yugo Tartars, and therefore he gave himself the title of Donskoi. The liberation struggle lasted 100 years, ending only victoriously in 1480 when Ajmat – the last Khan – did not dare to fight against Prince Ivan III’s troops on the Ugra River. Ivan III completed the gathering of the Russian territories under Moscow’s domination.

Relationship with Ukraine

Russia has had a complicated relationship with Ukraine in the 2000s. The countries are closely linked to one another economically, linguistically, culturally and historically, but how closely integrated the two countries should be politically constitutes a deep dividing line in Ukrainian politics. There has been a widespread desire in Ukraine to apply westward to the EU. The disagreement has been about whether this can be combined with a close relationship with Russia or not. The two directions have alternated to win the Ukrainian elections through the 21st century.

The Russian line has been to maintain close integration, among other things, by counteracting the Ukrainian approach to the EU. The relationship between the two countries reached a tentative bottom point in connection with the ” Orange Revolution ” in 2004, when west-facing politicians came to power in Kiev. Russia responded by declaring that they would introduce international market prices of gas sold to Ukraine, which would mean a dramatic increase from the current price level, which was based on an agreement (see below on Gas Exports). Russia also worried about the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO. The important Russian Black Sea Fleet is located in Crimea on the basis of an agreement between the two countries.

Also, more symbolic issues are the focus of relations between Russia and Ukraine. In Russia, the memory of victory in World War II – the Great Fatherland War – is fundamental because it creates unity and a sense that Russia has a mission. Although the Ukrainians were among the Soviet peoples who contributed most to this victory, in Ukraine there were also groups that took the opportunity to fight against the Soviet authorities, often in collaboration with the Nazi German occupiers. These groups were responsible for extensive ethnic cleansing in the areas they controlled, which mainly affected Poles and Jews. Stepan Bandera (1909-1959) is the best known leader of these groups. When statues are erected in Ukraine and stamps are issued with Bandera, it is reacted in Russia and in parts of Ukraine with allegations of fascism. The Bandera cult in Ukraine includes the parties that are considered pro-European.

Ukraine crisis

In the fall of 2013, relations with Ukraine tightened, leading to what are often referred to as the Ukraine crisis. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych stood for a policy in which Ukraine entered into close cooperation with the EU, but without destroying close relations with Russia. He had worked out an association agreement with the EU, which was to be signed in November despite EU leaders being very skeptical about how Yanukovych handled human rights and freedom of the press.. Russia, for its part, was strongly opposed to the Association Agreement, and in the summer of 2013 marked the reluctance by allowing consumer and sanitary supervision to ban non-strategic but symbolically saturated Ukrainian chocolate products. More seriously, in October President Putin declared that if Ukraine signed the Association Agreement, they would not be able to enjoy the same access to the Russian market as the Customs Union members (Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus). Instead, they would have access in the same way as other WTO countries.

On November 21, the Ukrainian government issued a decree suspending preparation for the Association Agreement. As a substitute, a three-sided commission with Ukraine, Russia and the EU was proposed to clarify trade issues. This provided the start of sustained demonstrations in Ukraine during the winter of 2013-2014. On February 21, Yanukovych left Kiev and made his way over to Russia. Opposition politicians seized power in Kiev. Although Vladimir Putin had never considered Yanukovych as “her husband,” Russia continued to regard him as the rightful president of Ukraine until new elections were held.

Crimean peninsula events in spring 2014 accelerated on March 16 when a peninsula was held on which state it should belong to, Russia or Ukraine. The peninsula had been transferred from the Russian to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic in 1954. The alternatives in the vote were: 1) Reunification with Russia and acquisition of status as a Federation subject in the Russian Federation and 2) Return to the Crimean Constitution of 1992 and Crimea as part of Ukraine. There was a massive majority for reunification.

Although the referendum was strongly contested internationally, the peninsula’s two administrative units were incorporated into the Russian federation through a decision in the State Duma on March 20 and the president’s signature the following day. The Federation was now given two new Federation subjects (“states”), the Republic of Crimea and the city of special rights, Sevastopol. The relationship between Russia and large parts of the outside world was thus greatly deteriorated.