Sunday, November 1, 2015

21st Pioneer?

From the BBC:
"Russia to Get 21st-Century Version of Kids' Pioneers Organization"
President Vladimir Putin has ordered the creation of a schoolchildren's movement aimed at promoting national values and apparently modeled on the Soviet Union's Young Pioneers organization. The Russian Schoolchildren's Movement is being established to “perfect state policy in the area of educating the young generation, [and] to support the forming of personalities on the basis of the value system inherent to Russian society,” Putin said in a decree signed Thursday and posted on the government's official document website.The date when the decree was signed and published, Oct. 29, is the anniversary of the founding in 1918 of the Soviet Union's Young Communist League, or Komsomol: a group that comprised high-schoolers, college students and young professionals. The potential symbolism of the timing prompted many in Russia to speculate that the new schoolchildren's movement would resemble yet another of the Soviet Union's youth organizations, intended for yet younger citizens: the Young Pioneers. “On Komsomol's birthday, Putin signed a decree on creating new Pioneers,” the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily said in a headline on its website Thursday. The newspaper went on to clarify, however, that the new movement was not an attempt to recreate the pioneers, because unlike its Soviet-era predecessor, the new organization would be free from Communist or any other ideology. The shape and scope of the new movement remained unclear. Education Ministry officials appeared unfamiliar with Putin's plans, while a social affairs official in Russia's Cabinet said the new movement was “exclusively the presidential administration's” idea, RBC news agency reported. But others argued the new group could fill a niche that had been left vacant for decades since the 1991 Soviet collapse. In a country that saw an upsurge in crime, drug use and, more recently, radical Islamist movements amid the easing of government restrictions that followed the Soviet collapse, supporters of the new movement see it as a way of providing a purpose for young Russians. While several modern Pioneers organizations exist, mostly run by the Communist party, they do not operate at a national level like the new Russian Schoolchildren's Movement. While Putin's decree did not specify the values that the new movement was supposed to develop in children, the Russian leader has been increasingly calling for patriotic education recently, as Moscow's relations with the West have grown fetid over the crises in Ukraine and Syria. Moscow's official rhetoric accuses Western governments of seeking to destroy Russia, while criticism of Kremlin policies is frequently denounced as a sign of belonging to the “fifth column” or subscribing to “extremist” views. The Soviet Union had three massive youth organizations: Oktyabryata for young children, starting with elementary school students, Pioneers for middle schoolers, and Komsomol, into which applicants were admitted starting from high-school age. Komsomol membership was in most cases obligatory to gain admission to elite colleges and universities. In another recent reintroduction of Soviet-era practices, Putin signed a law earlier this month that re-establishes physical training standards known in Russia by its acronym GTO, which stands for “Ready for Labor and Defense.”
^ I have tried to read Russian and world media sources (in Russian and English) to see if this new Organization would be obligatory for all Russian children the way the Pioneers was. I wasn't able to find anything concrete out. It seems that no one (other than maybe Putin) knows what his new decree and organization will be about. I admit that there needs to be more programs, etc for Russian youth, but am not sure if re-creating a mandatory, government-run Pioneer-like group is the answer. I was a Boy Scout and that helped me (it was also voluntary and not government-run.)

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