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Russia: trade union congress focuses on quality education

published 30 March 2015 updated 31 March 2015

The Education and Science Employees Union of Russia held its 7th congress last week, with a strong focus on quality education, teachers’ rights and the future of the teaching profession.

The Congress defined the statutory tasks for the next five years, which include the enhancement of the social and professional status of teachers as well as of their salary structure, including fair indexation of wages above the inflation level. The congress also decided to call for an improvement in the financing of educational organisations’ activities in order to protect teachers’ rights and to improve the efficiency and quality of educational services.

Addressing the Congress, the Prime Minister of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, said: “The Education and Science Employees Union has already done very much in order to protect social and labour rights. It has improved the working conditions and lives of educational employees. And it has increased their wages.” The Minister of Education and Science, Dmitry Livanov, commended the role of the union in the preservation of the constitutional rights and guarantees for education employees.. He stressed that no layoffs were expected for teachers in the near future.

On the other hand, the fate of universities looks slightly different. The reduction in the number of students currently witnessed in the country will inevitably lead to a decrease in the budget, he warned. Notwithstanding that, Livanov expects the Russian system of the higher education to be in “a healthy state” in 2016.

According to Martin Rømer, European director of ETUCE, who spoke at the congress, the government of any country is responsible for the maintenance and continued development of the education system. Romer also stressed that quality education is impossible to achieve without decent wages and confidence in teachers and other education professionals. He also emphasized that the best education systems are those in countries where the social dialogue system between teachers and the government is developed. “Any reform of the education system should be carried out in agreement with teachers’ unions. Politicians can of course take decisions autonomously, but their implementation and success depends largely on the teachers who have to carry them out”, he concluded.