27 december 2012

Award ceremony for Government prizes in education


Dmitry Medvedev’s opening remarks:

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I’m very pleased to greet you so close to the New Year and to congratulate you on winning these Government prizes in education.

This year prizes have been awarded to 155 researchers and teachers of the leading research and educational centres of Moscow, St Petersburg, the Volga area, Siberia, the Far East, and the North Caucasus. Practically all our regions are represented here. The winners have gone through a complicated selection involving more than 250 leading experts and public discussion. I’d like to use this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken part in this important work.

The winners include authors of manuals, monographs, and methods of teaching economics, power engineering, management, healthcare, natural sciences, physics and mathematics. I’m absolutely confident that these works are in keeping with modern trends around the world in terms of the novelty of the methods and the comprehensive coverage of allied disciplines.

It goes without saying that we should be open to everything new. That said, we should also remember and preserve our best pedagogical traditions, which have been tested in this country for a long time. We have not given up on them and are not going to. Any changes in this sphere – and changes are always needed – must be understood by the people, those whom teachers serve.

Recently, the Government has endorsed a state programme for the development of education from 2013 to 2020, and yesterday the Federation Council approved the draft Law on Education in the Russian Federation. It will be implemented in stages, starting on September 1, 2013. These are complicated documents and they were discussed in this country for a long time. I think this is the right approach because they have become better as a result of discussion. The work to harmonise the texts of these documents continued practically until the Duma completed its work. Let me repeat that I think this was the right thing to do because the documents are well-balanced.

Needless to say, we all understand that no document can be absolutely universal or flawless. I’d like to emphasise that, having adopted the documents today, we’ll see how they meet the requirements of the time and will adjust them, if need be. Money should be allocated in any event. The Government allocates significant funds for education even though the budget is tight. It is committed to fulfilling its obligations on funding education, and we will honour all our promises. Aggregate spending on education from all budgets will amount to almost 2.5 trillion roubles and to almost three trillion roubles in 2013. These are huge funds, and we must spend them wisely. Everyone should learn how to do it, from the Government and the Ministry of Education to the municipalities.

And, of course, the most important aspect is the prestige of the teaching profession, which includes both moral factors and a decent pay. As a result of these reforms, pre-school teachers and experts, university professors and research associates should identify themselves with the middle class, which is the foundation of stability in any society.

Dear friends, our goal is to make the educational system more effective and accessible to all. This is our common task – a task shared by executive and legislative bodies, the expert community, business people and our entire civil society. Obviously, this is the most important condition for our national development.

I’d like to congratulate all prize winners once again. I must admit at one time I was also presented with such a prize for writing a manual on civil law when I was working at St Petersburg University. This is why I’m very pleased to congratulate you today. Prizes are always good but I wish you even more accomplishments in the future. I’d like to wish you all a happy New Year. I wish happiness to you, to your families and friends and whomever you love. Thank you for your attention.