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Students Will Receive Tolerance Training in Russian Schools

A new program, educating students in tolerance, will start in Moscow from January, 2008. Under the name �Capital of Multi-national Russia�, the city authorities hope that with the help of this program, the level of adolescent crime will go down. After all, those who attack newcomers usually begin with the derision of their own, non-Slavic classmates. Every tenth conflict between schoolmates at present emerges specifically on national grounds. Experts consider that many conflicts on national grounds could have been avoided if the school had trained students in tolerance.

Especially strong nationalistic sentiments can be found among students between the seventh and tenth grades. �Often children are not shy in what they express, so as to somehow offend and hurt their non-Russian classmates,� early and middle-school history teacher Alexander Baranov told �NI�. �Some students openly declare to their peers that if all strangers left Moscow, the city would definitely improve. During a break, a fight suddenly broke out over the fact that one fifth-grade student called another �chock�.

The students themselves, however, are not ashamed of their views and consider them completely normal. �There are two Azerbaijani students in our class,� seventh-grade student Ilya told �NI�. �They behave insolently, so we punish them. We have beaten them twice, but it was the right thing to do. They shouldn�t show themselves, it�s better if they leave.�

There is no federal program currently in Russia directed against the spreading of nationalism in schools. The issue is whether or not it is worth introducing lessons of friendship between cultures in the obligatory school program while much remains unsettled. Even if tolerance were to become one of the main items of the school program, though, it would be a challenge to make it a reality. The issue of implementing even the most well-thought out methods of teaching tolerance is set against the lack of qualified teaching staff.

Source: �Novaya Izvestia�

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