Tatarstan Ministry of Education criticises homeschooling: number of those refusing school is up

“They are simply scared”

Tatarstan Minister of Education and Science Ilsur Khadiullin criticised a new tendency in Russian society — a transition to home education. According to him, the number of people refusing traditional school education and the supporters of the transition to homeschooling is increasing the republic.

He didn’t name the total number of children preferring such a form of education. At the same time, Ilsur Khadiullin noted that this year five people who studied at home didn’t show up for state exams.

“We have information that they are simply scared, they have lost a year. They simply didn’t show up. Why didn’t they show up? What do they think about? If they were at school, they would sit midterm exams, there would be no problem then,” the head of the Tatarstan Ministry of Education and Science was indignant.

The minister thinks that it is necessary to get a school education at school, with teachers:

“It is a very good opportunity, a good site for creativity. You have your classmates, your teachers, hot meals at school. We have discipline, order and control. Then the results of Unified State Exams are much better, and students aren’t afraid of sitting an exam.”

Ilsur Khadiullin noted that children who deregistered from the school simply stay at home studying with tutors. Moreover, not all of them have a special degree or licence. He urged students to “come to the schools of the republic, study at school, you will get the knowledge, and the education will be full, and you will be socialised, live in this environment, in our environment, not stay at home, dive into this virtual environment, wait for a tutor. And then when it is time to sit exams, you feel terrified. You know, it is already late to help them.”

Tatarstan functionaries for “well-reasoned approach”

The Tatarstan authorities expressed their concern about the looming tendency of homeschooling as early as three years ago. Tatarstan president Rustam Minnikhanov personally raised the issue a year ago.

The Tatarstan prosecutor’s office also distrusts the home education format. At a meeting of the office in 2019, it became known that an inspection they carried out detected considerable gaps in the organisation of educational bodies with students studying at home and their parents.

“Nobody denies the students and their parents’ right to choice, but a well-reasoned approach is necessary,” Tatarstan Prosecutor Ilsur Nafikov insisted. He paid attention to the fact that not all people can provide full education at home and socialise the child.

In 2017, 606 children studied out of school, in 2018, their number reached 898. As of February 2021, 881 children homeschooled in the republic.

The Tatarstan office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs disapproves such an education format too. Minister of Internal Affairs Artyom Khokhorin claimed in 2019 “the second generation of Salafis” was created in the republic — it is the children educated in the families obeying Salafi Islam. He named ideological and religious convictions as the main reason why parents wanted them children to homeschool.

The minister of Tatarstan saw a danger in the homeschooling and education of minors in an environment closed from society. In this regard, three years ago he tasked his subordinates to find such children and religious organisations and cooperate with educational bodies in municipalities.

Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov criticised home education early last year. He stressed the same aspects security officials indicated — the quality of knowledge and socialisation.

“This is not good. I think a child studying at home won’t get the due education, and it is an open question if the child will be adapted to society or not. We understand that parents have religious beliefs. We have the experience of creating an Orthodox Christian and Muslim schools. I think these areas should develop, but these schools should follow the federal standard. At home we understand how to study at home,” Minnikhanov said.

Functionaries’ criticism isn’t an obstacle for parents

However, despite the functionaries’ sceptical attitude, their criticism and quite weighty arguments against, Tatarstan parents more often prefer homeschooling to the school. As Realnoe Vremya found out in April 2022, the number of students studying at home last year in the republic almost doubled, up to 2,061 people.

Kazan citizen Raya Demidova who chose homeschooling for her child told the online newspaper several factors influenced the decision: “an imbalanced six-day week at school,” a lack of educational organisations next to the place of residence. Also, some were positive about the experience of studying at home in the spring of 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A tragedy that happened on 11 May 2021 morning in Kazan School No. 175 influenced the tendency for switching to home education too. After that, “many were simply afraid of taking their children to school,” Realnoe Vremya’s interlocutor claimed.

However, no matter what arguments parents provide in favour of homeschooling, the results children show when studying at home aren’t in favour. Their quality of education is notably worse, says the Tatarstan Ministry of Education and Science.

“The quality of education in children studying at home in final exams is below the results across the Republic of Tatarstan,” the ministry told Realnoe Vremya.

Angelina Panchenko, Tatiana Dyomina