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In a recent meeting with history teachers at the Herzen State Pedagogical University, Russian Education Minister Sergey Kravtsov made a startling claim, stating that Western intelligence agencies are actively engaged in an “information war” against Russia’s new general history textbook designed for high school students.
West of Waging “Information War”
Kravtsov asserted that those criticizing the textbook are fundamentally opposed to a “sovereign” Russian education system and resist the inclusion of “objective facts” from contemporary events. He argued that the detractors aim to regress Russia but assured that such efforts would be futile. While acknowledging that the textbook will undergo continuous improvements based on feedback from teachers, Kravtsov confidently stated that the core foundation of the textbook is already in place.
According to Kravtsov, the recent criticism against the history textbook actually signifies a victory for Russia in the ongoing information war. He pointed out that both society and teachers are actively supporting the textbook, countering external pressures and affirming the sovereignty of the Russian education system.
The Chapters Covering the Period from the 1970s to the 2000s
Starting from September 1, 2023, high school students in Russia began studying general and Russian history from the new textbooks. Notably, the chapters covering the period from the 1970s to the 2000s have undergone complete rewrites, and a new chapter has been added to cover events from 2014 to the present, including Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Despite the textbook’s ambitious scope, it faced criticism in late September, particularly from public figures and politicians in the North Caucasus region, including Chechnya. The controversy centered around a passage related to Stalin’s deportations of ethnic minorities. In response to the backlash, the Russian Education Ministry promptly rewrote this section. In November, Sergey Kravtsov took a proactive step by personally presenting the revised textbook to Ramzan Kadyrov, the Head of Chechnya.
Geopolitical Tensions Surrounding Educational Content
Kravtsov’s accusations of an “information war” underscore the broader geopolitical tensions surrounding educational content. In the context of Russia’s efforts to shape its national narrative, the inclusion of contemporary events, such as the military operation in Ukraine, highlights the complex interplay between history, politics, and education.
The minister’s reassurance that the textbook will evolve based on teacher feedback reflects a commitment to an education system that is responsive to the needs of educators and students. Despite the challenges, Kravtsov remains optimistic about the resilience of the Russian education system in the face of external scrutiny and opposition. The allegations of an “information war” serve as a stark reminder of the multifaceted nature of educational discourse and its connections to broader geopolitical dynamics.