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    » 02/14/2012, 00.00

    RUSSIA

    Religion becomes a compulsory subject in all Russian schools

    Nina Achmatova

    Putin signs a decree to introduce the fundamentals of religion at a national level. From September, pupils can choose between Orthodoxy, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam, or opt for "moral ethics".
    Moscow (AsiaNews) - After two years of experimentation, from next September, the fundamentals of religion will become a compulsory subject in all Russian schools. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin approved the decree that introduced the teaching of religion throughout the country following a trial that took place only in some regions.

    The elementary and middle school students may choose to study either the history of one of the four religions termed 'traditional' - Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism - or more general courses on "foundations of religious culture" or "Fundamentals of public ethics ". So far the lessons have been concentrated in only a quarter of the school year, but the Orthodox Church has asked it be extended over the whole year in 2012. Banned during the Soviet period, religion returned to schools in April 2010 but only in 19 regions, with an initiative strongly supported by the Patriarch of Moscow and blessed by the Kremlin, interested in cementing common values of national identity .

    From the beginning, the idea has raised strong criticism in Russia, a country that has experienced 70 years of state atheism, and where different ethnicities and religions live. "I think it is wrong to divide the children into groups according to religion - said Ivar Maskurov, an expert on religions – it could cause many problems."

    Another objection raised by critics of religion in the school is the lack of qualified teachers and good textbooks, as was admitted by the Elena Romanova, Head of the Ministry of Education for the teaching of religion.

    The skepticism of the secular world is not shared by the religious themselves. Not only does the Patriarchate of Moscow support the initiatibe, but also the Muslim community. The mufti Krganov Albir, Chairman of the Committee of Muslim spiritual in Chuvashia (Russian autonomous republic) said that "the new subject has become very popular with both pupils and parents in Chivashia schools. Parents say they have learned a lot about religion when their children attend these courses."

    In February, at Putin's order, the Ministry of Education launched training courses for teachers of religion, while in March the families will have to decide which course in which to enroll their children.
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    See also

    20/08/2009 RUSSIA
    Religion is back in Russian schools, but under the aegis of the Kremlin
    A new subject will be introduced this year into 12 thousand schools across the Federation: "spiritual and moral formation". By 2012 all Russian schools will have to offer the course that provides the opportunity to study Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism or Buddhism. For religious minorities it is another sign of the alliance between the Kremlin and the Moscow Patriarchate.

    26/01/2010 RUSSIA
    Teaching religion in school distances Russians from Orthodoxy
    A poll published by the Ministry of Education shows that more than 58% of parents chose secular ethics for their children, while only 19.1% opt for the foundations of Orthodox culture. Unprepared teachers and unsuitable texts root cause of problem.

    28/03/2011 RUSSIA
    As of 2012, religion will be studied in all Russian schools
    After “successful" trial year, Ministry of Education and the Moscow Patriarchate announce the introduction of "Fundamentals of religious culture and ethics" across national territory.

    07/09/2009 RUSSIA
    More than 70 per cent of Russians in favour of teaching Orthodox culture in schools
    Most Russians like the new courses in ‘spiritual and moral training’ proposed by the Kremlin for the country’s primary and middle schools. For Protestants they are discriminatory because they exclude non-Orthodox Christian denominations. For Muslims the danger is the imposition of divisions among children on the basis of religion.

    23/06/2005 RUSSIA - VATICAN
    The Vatican backs the Russian Orthodox Church on religion in schools




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