In the latest installment of the campaign to inundate Russian schoolchildren with patriotic education, the Russian government allocated 1 billion rubles to equip Russian schools with national symbols. Starting with September 1, 2022, the school week will begin by raising the flag and singing the national anthem. Kommersant columnist Dmitri Drize, a political columnist for Kommersant FM, believes that this top down approach will actually backfire because the school children will resent it as artificial. Additionally, before spending on national symbol kits, the authorities should first ensure that all schools are equipped with basic amenities. It is hard to feel patriotic when your school lacks elementary toilet facilities.
Drize's comments follow below:
The national symbols kit comes complete with (from left) the flag, the coat of arms and the national anthem (Source: Intelkot.ru)
"According to the government’s press service, this year, under the federal “Patriotic Education of Russia's Citizens” project, 970 million rubles for the purchase of Russian Federation state symbols kits will be allocated to the country's schools. These symbols include: coat of arms, flags and flagpoles. On June 9, the Minister of Education, Sergey Kravtsov jubilantly proclaimed that he personally approved “the standard of conduct for the state flag raising ceremony at the country’s schools.” The Minister of Education stressed that the document had been agreed with the Chairman of the Heraldic Council under the President. So [according to him] there can be no variants.
"We won’t decipher the ministry’s instructions in detail, as everyone will probably be able to get familiarized with this document on his own. But still some aspects are worth highlighting, for example the standard provides for the order of installation of the state symbol and, accordingly, for the raising of the flag. Probably the document should also provide for guidelines on how to stand, how to move, and in which direction to look. It’s unlikely that these actions were left to the discretion of the teaching staff. After all, it’s a serious moment, one shouldn’t allow any willfulness.
"It should also be noted that since September 1, the playing of the anthem and the raising of the national flag will be mandatory in every Russian school without exception. What’s more, now it has been clarified how to add more historical disciplines to the school program. This decision in principle was taken by the higher ups, people tasked with this are already working the implementation of this initiative. Thus, the flag-raising ceremony is not the only innovation that awaits the younger generation in the new school year. On the whole, it all sounds a bit weird, “patriotism, according to the instructions and standards.” The same is true for the phrase “state symbols kit.” Well, it reeks of bureaucratism.
"And what happens if someone violates the regulations, for instance erects the state symbol in the wrong way? Is there an appropriate penalty prescribed for him? If not, it is clearly an oversight.
"Dear comrades, there is no such thing as patriotism according to standard or by instruction. It should be heartfelt, and not on paper. And all these forms represent a formal, bureaucratic approach. What will your leadership teach you? You have to be closer to the people. Otherwise there is a temptation to do the opposite. This risks seriously impacting the final indicators of how patriotic education will be improved in the country as a whole. Especially since in the first place the younger generation has a very clear sense of what is real and what is formal. Secondly, how do things stand with the physical state of educational institutions, so that engagement in patriotism [can be done under] comfortable living conditions.
"Sorry for mentioning this, but this year a popular issue arose about school toilets. Somewhere there are toilets, and somewhere kids are advised to go to the street. However, let’s hope that all of today’s trivial problems are promptly eliminated in this part as well. Although, perhaps, it has nothing to do with patriotism. Well this is an important issue. Children must not be distracted from the learning and educational process, otherwise who knows what conversations could arise as a result. We must not allow this to happen at a difficult time."
Drize was probably referring to the contest staged last year by the household care company Detos asking Russians to identify the six worst school toilet facilities. The "winners" received spanking new facilities at Detos' expense. Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov claimed that responsibility for school toilets was the responsibility of local government and not the Kremlin, but did not see anything subversive in the contest. U-f.ru/news.ru, June 6, 2021)
 Kommersant.ru, June 10, 2022.