Russians who fought in Ukraine will be sent to teach a new practical course for schoolchildren on security and defence issues, according to the country’s education minister, in the latest sign of growing militarism in Russian society.
“A centre has been created this year … to retrain teacher-veterans of the special military operation,” Russia’s Education Minister Sergey Kravtsov said, using the official name for the war in Ukraine, according to a report in the TASS state news agency on Wednesday.
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“Those who have taken part in combat”, the minister said, will participate in the “implementation of a new subject area with a prioritisation on practical training for a new ‘Fundamentals of Security and Defence of the Motherland’”, according to TASS.
Moscow has been overhauling its school curriculum since its invasion of Ukraine last year.
New school textbooks have been printed with a revised interpretation of the fall of the Soviet Union, a focus on the era of Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as what Russia claims caused the war in Ukraine.
The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence said on Wednesday that the new school year in Russia started last week with a new curriculum focused on military skills, Moscow’s view of Ukraine’s history, and history exam questions that will include the war in Ukraine and the “reunification” of Crimea, which was annexed from Ukraine by Russia in 2014.
Curriculum changes for senior students, which were approved by Russia’s parliament last year, include a military training module that will teach the use of Kalashnikov assault rifles and hand grenades, piloting of unmanned aerial combat drones, and the application of battlefield first aid, the defence ministry said.
“The new curriculum serves three objectives: to indoctrinate students with the Kremlin rationale for the ‘Special Military Operation’, instil students with a martial mindset, and reduce training timelines for onward mobilisation and deployment,” the ministry added.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 06 September 2023.
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Promoting Russia’s military through the education system follows after President Vladimir Putin said in July that he wanted war veterans to be actively involved in public life.
On the first day of the school term last week, Putin held an open lesson with 30 schoolchildren, according to the UK’s Defence Ministry.
The new Fundamentals of Security and Defence of the Motherland course to be taught by veterans will begin in schools from September 1 next year.
Official figures show that at least 133,000 people in Russia have been officially designated veterans of the Ukraine conflict, which affords them and their families a raft of financial and other benefits.