Russian minister under fire

Nieuws | de redactie
15 april 2013 | The Russian Education Minister Dmitry Livanov’s might be losing his job over his highly controversial education reforms. Political expert Pavel Salin thinks that firing Livanov would make sense since it “would take the heat off Medvedev's government for a while”.

Duma deputies from different political parties will ask Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to sack Livanov next Wednesday. Livanov replaced Andrei Fursenko last May, but continued his predecessor’s controversial reforms. Most controversial among the reforms are the large financial revisions that will make schools and colleges less dependent on state funding. One of the hotly debated laws will reduce the number of schools for talented and disabled children.

Livanov’s proposed legislation for higher education is almost as controversial. The Russian government plans to greatly reduce the number of universities. Last fall, the Ministry of Education made a list of so-called “ineffective universities” that will be closed or merged with other institutes. On this list stood 136 colleges around the country, mostly institutes that are specialized in teaching, social work and agriculture.

Entire team sacked?

The Communist Party called Livanov’s education policy “anti-national” and “destroying Russian educational traditions”. “But we need to be careful in our demands because the one who may replace Livanov may be even worse,” said the communist deputy head of the Duma’s Education Committee Oleg Smolin, to the Moscow Times.

The communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov insists on the removal of Livanov’s entire team in the ministry. He pleads for a commission in the Duma that will investigate the actions of all education officials.

Not very popular

Another wave of criticism hit Livanov when he called the Russian Academy of Sciences “futureless and unsustainable”. A group of professors signed a letter that forced Livanov to apologize for his “dishonorable and unacceptable behavior”. Later he apologized but did not withdraw his plans to create a new organization that would replace the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Opinion polls show that Livanov is the most unpopular minister in the Russian government. Pavel Salin, director of the Center for Political Studies at Financial University, explained that Livanov’s dismissal would make sense for Medvedev. “Opinion polls show that education policy disappoints people the most, so the decision to dismiss Livanov would take the heat off Medvedev’s government for a while”.

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