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CIS/Russian Federation: Over a million pupils across Russia start the winter term with a new ICRC school manual

12-09-2002 News Release 02/37

This week, pupils and teachers in 80 regions of the Russian Federation are starting the winter term with a new school manual developed and produced by the ICRC.

This week, pupils and teachers in 80 regions of the Russian Federation are starting the winter term with a new school manual developed and produced by the ICRC. The new 8th form manual – A World Around You – is aimed at 14-year-olds and is part of a ten-year programme that introduces issues of human dignity, individual responsibility and the principles underlying international humanitarian law into secondary school curricula. The new manual is the last of a series of four manuals for 5th to 8th forms that are currently used in schools across the country.

The programme is based on extracts from Russian and world literature that encourage debate on the rules and norms that should be respected in any human society, both in peacetime and in war. Texts about war raise the issue of respect for civilians, prisoners and other persons protected under international humanitarian law. According to Veronica Vybornova, programme specialist at the ICRC's Moscow delegation, “’Do as you would be done by’ is the underlying ethical message, on the basis of which pupils debate the question of individual responsibility and the choice of means to attain one’s goals " .

The manual is accompanied by a teacher's book, and regional training seminars are held annually to help local education authorities implement the programme. In the words of one of the teachers, Ms G. V. Klyonova of school No. 19 in the city of Vladimir, “Present-day society gives rise to problem situations very similar to those in the manual. This sparks pupils’ interest, and encourages them to read and discuss literary works, not just in class but also at home, with their parents.”

The programme is a joint venture, involving the ICRC, the Russian Ministry of Education and the Russian Red Cross. The programme started in the Russian Federation eight years ago, and more than 60% of Russian pupils and teachers who have received the ICRC's A World Around You have worked with it, with 40% using it regularly. For 2002, the ICRC has allocated 1.7 million Swiss Francs to the programme.

The ICRC secondary school programme also covers Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The manuals are different in each country, as the ICRC has developed them individually, working together with local experts, the national Ministries of Education and teachers. Published in national languages, the manuals are based on local literature, history, culture and other source materials relevant to the specific literature or civic education curricula. This year, new books are also being published in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan. The ICRC programme is the biggest such initiative in CIS schools, covering the entire territory of each country and a range of age groups.

The CIS school programme is the ICRC's most ambitious school programme in the institutions'long history. Drawing on experience with this programme and inspired by its success, the ICRC has been developing an international module over the last three years, and will shortly be launching this new module in some 60 countries.

For more information, please consult the factsheet on the Russian school programme or the page on ICRC school programmes world-wide at