School in Russia
Russian children start school when they are seven. You attend elementary school for three years. You then skip the 4th grade and go straight to the 5th grade! But children can also start school at the age of six. This happens to 35 percent of children. You then have to stay in the basic level for four years. In 5th grade, all of the same age are together again.
The five-year main level begins in 5th grade. So it ends with the 9th grade and at the age of 15. Now you can begin vocational training or the students can attend upper school for another two years. Those who complete it can study at a university. However, a not very easy entrance exam has to be taken. Depending on the diploma, you will only be tested in one or two subjects or in several.
The school year always begins on September 1st and ends at the end of May. The summer vacation lasts three months, from June to August. When they start school, the children do not receive a school cone, but they bring flowers to their teacher. The school day starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. All-day schools are not common. However, supervision is offered for younger elementary school students. The children are given a lot of homework that they have to do in the afternoon.
Schools have a number as a designation. You might say, for example, “I’m going to school number 32.” The children walk to school or take the bus or subway. You don’t ride a bike, and there are no bike paths at all. Children from lonely villages sometimes have a long way to school, which they cover on skis in winter. Check iamaccepted to see schooling information in other European countries.
In the 1st grade the children naturally learn to read, write and arithmetic. A primer is used to learn to read, it is called Bukwar. From the 5th grade on, the first foreign language is taught in smaller groups. The class is split up for this. Mostly this is English, but sometimes it is also German or French. Latin, on the other hand, cannot be learned. From the 5th grade onwards, math is divided into two subjects: algebra and geometry. And in the 10th grade there is a new subject astronomy. The worst grade is 2, the best 5. A 1 may not be awarded.
A lot is controlled and queried by the teacher. Exercise books are collected every week. Every child has a school diary in which not only their homework but also their grades are written down. Parents have to sign that they have read it. The teachers are addressed by their first and last names, as is customary in Russia, i.e. not Mr. X or Ms. Y.
In the afternoons, many children attend a music or art school or a sports club. This is even more common than with us. It’s seen as another part of a good education and not just a hobby. Lessons are cheaper than ours.
Problems in Russia
Tourists who come to Russia usually see a lot of gold, for example when they visit the great palaces in St. Petersburg. But Russia also has problems. The health of the Russians is now improving again (after bad years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when life expectancy was particularly low), but things are still not looking really good. Infant mortality in 2015 was still 0.5 percent (it is higher than ours at 0.3 percent). Life expectancy is 70 years, for us 81 years.
Also, poverty is a problem. There are few very rich Russians, but also many poor (13 percent total). The distribution in the country is quite different. In Chechnya and Dagestan in particular, many people live in poverty, namely half of the population. Half of the total population of Russia is not poor, but belongs to the low-income population.
The unemployment rate is low at 5.5 percent, but incomes and pensions are well below the average in Germany, for example.
The environmental problems are great because environmental protection has been neglected for decades. Waste from factories pollutes nature to this day. There are also still old factories that emit harmful fumes or discharge them into rivers.
There are 650,000 children without parents. They live in children’s homes.
Especially in big cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg there are children who live on the streets. They come from broken families, and their parents often drink far too much alcohol. The number of Russian street children is estimated to be between 150,000 and 730,000. 30,000 to 50,000 of them are said to live in Moscow alone, and 15,000 in St. Petersburg.
Some street children earn a little money by waiting on the main streets for the traffic light to turn red and then cleaning the windows of the cars that stop. In return they get some money. Some also become criminals and steal food or clothing, for example, while others beg or deal in drugs. Many of the street kids sniff glue. The glue fumes are intoxicating and so they can forget their misery for a short time.
There are aid programs such as NAN or from the SOS Children’s Villages.