Russian Federation - Centre for Educational Innovations, Arkangelsk

This project promotes the right to education for the children in rural areas of the Arkangelsk region.

The Arkangelsk Region of Russia is surrounded by Arctic seas and is covered in snow for up to 250 days a year, temperatures of -40C are common. The collapse of the Soviet Union led to a dramatic drop in living conditions in this region which hit the poor and indigenous populations particularly hard. The result has been a vast increase in unemployment, violence, alcoholism and children out of parental care. For children from rural and decaying industrial communities to receive any education they have to travel to faraway boarding schools which further weakens ties to families, communities and native indigenous languages. Only 10-12% of children are considered ‘healthy’ by the time they are in school. 50% of children are severely lacking in vitamins and anaemic. Tuberculosis and hypothermia are major problems.

UNESCO has recently financed the building, in a geographically-central location, of a 3-storey school along with the Centre for Educational Innovations in order for local children to receive quality and culturally-adapted education, thus avoiding the need for boarding. Numbers of children in the school are increasing, but at a slow rate. Many more could be taken on and more teachers require training in innovative and modern techniques of teaching. UNESCO has funded transport to pick up children from remote villages and communities, but more is needed on that front. The aim is to expand the school’s capacity to include greater numbers of impoverished children, ensuring meals for them (presently only 50% of pupils are able to be fed a hot meal), transporting remote children and providing clothes for many of the most destitute who have no protection against hypothermia.

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