The plenary meeting of the 7th session of the Social and Pedagogic Forum "Enlightenment in Russia: Traditions and Challenges of the New Age" was held on April 4th, 2014, in the Auditorium of St.Petersburg State University.
The meeting was chaired by the Forum's co-chairmen: V.I. Yakunin, Chairman of the "Istoki" Endowment Board of Trustees and of the Center of National Glory and President of the Russian Railways OJSC; and N.M. Kropachev, rector of St. Petersburg State University and Chairman of the Northwestern Federal District University Rectors' Union.
The participants of the meeting also included: V.S. Kaganov, Deputy Minister of Education and Science; L.A. Verbitskaya, chairwoman of the Forum's Program Committee, President of St. Petersburg State University and President of the Russian Academy of Education; L.N.Bokova, Deputy Chairwoman of the Russian Federation Council's Committee on Constitutional Legislation, Legal and Judiciary Issues and Civil Society Development; A.V. Likhomanov, general director of the Russian National Library; as well as other representatives of the authorities and public organizations, scientists and culture figures.
In his opening address, Mr. Kropachev, rector of Saint-Petersburg State University, put special emphasis on the symbolic importance of the Center of National Glory's efforts to hold the Annual Social and Pedagogic Forum in Saint-Petersburg, and expressed his certainty that the forum's results will have a positive impact on creating a better education system in modern Russia.
The participants of the 7th session of the Social and Pedagogic Forum were also greeted by Mr. Kaganov, Deputy Minister of Education and Science, who pointed out the relevance and opportune timing of discussing the issues of modern Russian enlightenment, and promised that the Russian Ministry of Education and Science would study all the Forum's recommendations with great attention and use them as guidelines for its work.
While speaking to the Forum participants, Mr. Yakunin said: "Several years ago, when we raised the issue of modern education's forms and strategies, we did not yet have a complete understanding of the importance that the subject of education would have at a time of constant search for national identity, perceived as part of the social worldview and of summarizing our country's social, cultural and economic development strategies. Even so, we did realize that the goals of education presuppose a necessary systemic approach to education, upbringing, science, culture and media activity. It was very important to create an environment for professional dialog, where expert opinions could be integrated, the teaching techniques of the day could be discussed and new scientific research could be initiated".
When dwelling on the issues connected with the development of Russian economy, he also pointed out, "One of the key tasks aimed at a new industrialization is the development of an ideological platform. The new priorities of Russia's economic development, involving production revival, may be based on the replacement of the outdated Western neo-liberal models by new concepts, which rely on the long-standing core of the Russian culture's values and moral guidelines. In this regard, we need to shift from a simplified technocratic system modernization paradigm to creating new social, cultural and educational practices, which could use all the potential of our culture and education. The teaching community will doubtlessly play a key role in the efficient operation and development of the education system".
The participants of the 7th session of the Social and Pedagogic Forum "Enlightenment in Russia: Traditions and Challenges of the New Age" were also greeted by A.A. Fursenko, Assistant to the President of the Russian Federation. During the first part of the Plenary meeting, the Forum participants were greeted by: A.S. Maksimov, Chairman of the Saint-Petersburg Government's Committee on Science and Higher Education; S.V. Tarasov, Chairman of the Leningrad Region General and Professional Education Committee; and N.V. Burov, Chairman of the Saint-Petersburg Public Chamber and director of the St. Isaac's Cathedral State Memorial Museum.
L.A. Verbitskaya, chairwoman of the Forum's Program Committee, President of St. Petersburg State University and President of the Russian Academy of Education, specifically pointed out in her speech that during the thousand years of history, Russia had never lost its main values, language, culture and traditions. "Language is key to the preservation and development of a state, a nation, a unique culture. In this sense, preserving the national language is a matter of national security". At the same time, Ms. Verbitskaya reminded the meeting's participants that the modern Russian language is deteriorating, with our speech being penetrated by substandard words and even jargonisms. Further dwelling on the topic, she also added, "All talks about morality will remain empty words as long as we hear Russian spoken as frivolously as it is on television, on the radio and in everyday speech". According to Ms. Verbitskaya, public speech standards should be far stricter. Russia's future is depending on whether we are able to preserve our language and culture.
L.N.Bokova, Deputy Chairwoman of the Russian Federation Council's Committee on constitutional legislation, legal and judiciary issues and civil society development, dedicated her speech at the Social and Pedagogic Forum to improving the Russian Law on education and the opportunities for enlightening modern society that this law provides. Having raised the issue, she remarked that, important as educational innovations are, it is important to sustain education continuity.
A.V. Likhomanov, general director of the Russian National Library, spoke about the role of libraries in Russian education throughout history and today. V.S. Myasnikov, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, highlighted the Academy's role in the process of enlightenment. V.T. Ryazanov, head of the Economic Theory Department at Saint-Petersburg State University's Faculty of Economics, dedicated his speech to the burning issue of creating fields of expertise and additional staff training for the new Russian industrialization.
The plenary meeting also featured speeches delivered by V.E. Bagdasaryan, Dean of the History, Political Science and Law Faculty of the Moscow State Regional University;s T.K. Tsvetkova, Honorary Worker of the Russian General Education and Principal of the Physical and Mathematical Lyceum # 366, located in the Moskovskiy District of Saint Petersburg; and S.I. Tsybukov, General Director of Scientific Development and Production Center for plastic processing named after "Komsomolskaya pravda" Ltd.
The conclusions of the Forum's section meetings were drawn by: S.A. Goncharov, First Prorector of A.I. Herzen Russian State Pedagogic University, Honored Worker of Science of the Russian Federation, Co-Chairman of the Expert Council of the Social and Pedagogical Forum; A.V. Buzgalin, Professor Emeritus at the M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University; L.P. Gromova, Dean of the Faculty of Journalism of St.Petersburg State University; N.Y. Dubinina, Honorary Worker of Culture of the Russian Federation, winner of the Russian Government's award issued to printed media, general director of the "Klepa" Publishing and Production Center; and I.I. Kostylev, President of the Admiral Makarov State University of Maritime and Inland Shipping .
The plenary meeting of the 7th session of the Social and Pedagogic Forum "Enlightenment in Russia: Traditions and Challenges of the New Age" ended with the participants approving a draft version of the recommendations to the authorities, drawn up by the Forum's Program Committee. The recommendations are to be updated throughout the following month, based on the Forum participants' feedback.