Natalia Komarova’s interview to "Teachers Newspaper"
Natalia Komarova’s interview to "Teachers Newspaper"
Our position is to create conditions for obtaining high quality and competitive education
In December this year, the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Ugra, a recognized leader in domestic economy, energy center of Russia, celebrates its 85th Anniversary. Strategic potential of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug is business, scientific and creative activity of population, efficiency of industrial policy and public resources. Ugra is the leader in production of electricity, production of oil, gas and volume of investments in fixed assets.
For the third year in a row over a million square meters of housing are being commissioned at the Autonomous Okrug. In 2015, 14 thousand children has been born in Ugra, population of the district for the first time in its history has exceeded 1,612,000 people.
You should at least once visit the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Ugra, walk through nice, clean and quiet streets of the capital of Khanty-Mansiysk, where no building is alike, to come to the Philharmonic of Surgut which for people of Ugra is as well loved and demanded as the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. You also need to have time to meet with residents of Beloyarsk, a small modern town located in taiga. Here you will definitely be shown favorite vacation spots of townspeople, a musical fountain and a unique eco-center "Nuvi At" (translated from the Khanty language as "White Night"). Every city, every remotest village of Ugra has its own sight making locals reasonably proud.
Meeting and talking with the acting Governor of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Ugra, Natalia Komarova, the leader with 26 years of work experience in the North having eight year experience of deputy’s work in the State Duma of the Russian Federation, having provided answers to many questions including in respect of modern operating conditions of educational system of Ugra.
- Natalia Vladimirovna, you work in an unusual region, harsh with a male character. How did you manage to cope with it?
- The question is not new. The answer is simple: I am proud to be a woman, and I do not try to try strength against men. I try to work so I could answer myself that I have done everything for the people, for the district, and for the country. I moved to the north in age of 24 and 21 years worked at the Yamal Peninsula. It was there where the main rules that I follow now were formed. Novy Urengoy has taught me to distinguish the important from the secondary, to find alternative solutions and explain own position, responsibility to the people. I always rely on people, I need to communicate with them and gather their wisdom. Here in the North we don’t have indifferent people. We always wish to all, as our famous writer, Maria Kuzminichna Voldina, says – goodness and light. And also Ugra people say: "To see Ugra means to fall in love with Russia!"
- Recently various educational and monitoring ratings have come into vogue. How important to you as the governor is such external evaluation or you are well aware of all your people?
- I hope I do. But here the variety of views is useful. In Ugra we hold our own district contests, male ratings of most successful teachers, schools, and kindergartens. And when there are achievements recognized by important experts, I – no hiding here – am proud of my fellow countrymen... For example, Ugra Physics and Mathematics boarding school has been twice one of the best national schools of advanced level, and according to the RAEX research agency is included in Top 200 secondary general education institutions whose graduates are most likely to enter leading universities of the country. Last year, three kindergartens from Ugra, Nizhnevartovsk "Erudite" and "Semitsvetik", and "Wonderland" from Khanty-Mansiysk have entered the top ten of preschool educational institutions in Russia.
Our priority is creation of conditions for high-quality, competitive education. Modern world demands innovative approaches from professionals in any field of activity. It is not by chance that all ratings have this line: how lucky graduates are, how serious heights they have reached in the area they have chosen. We have our own stories. For example, Helena Petrovna Gryaznova graduated from the Foreign Languages School of the Surgut Pedagogical University in 2007. In 2014, she became a teacher of the year and winner of the Surgut district contest. Now she is the headmaster of Surgut school No. 6.
Or Pavel Ivashko; until 2011 when he entered the SurGPU he never played sports. And at university he has got opportunities and desire. Pavel became champion of the European Athletics Championships in 2014, a silver medalist among adults. He is currently the leader of the Russian national team in Beijing at the World Championship while continuing study in magistracy.
- The incredible fact is that only during first half of 2015 queue to kindergartens of Ugra has decreased by almost four times. How did you manage to achieve such results?
- Thanks to system work, the entire range of measures implemented within few years. We have to admit that we "are in debt" to small Ugra residents. We had to catch up, to take unprecedented measures.
Today in Ugra all children aged 5 to 7 years and more than half of 3-4 years children old registered in electronic queue have secured a place at pre-school institutions. Few years ago we could only dream of this. Also in 2012, preschool education was available to 82% of young people of Ugra, today it covers 94.3%. This is not the limit. By the end of this year, every child in Ugra aged from 3 to 7 years old will be able to get a place in kindergarten. And we are within deadlines set forth in May decrees of the President of Russia. In context of the positive demographic situation (there are more children) problem has to be solved in advance, with a "margin".
For this reason, we are building kindergartens 22 new kindergartens has opened their doors in 2014, and for 2015 we plan to open another thirty.
The initiative is being supported by private businesses, too. For them there have been created a mechanism allowing for entrepreneurs who have a license to receive budget funding for pre-school education. Today there are seven private kindergartens at the district. Until recently, there were only two. First one hase opened in Khanty-Mansiysk in 2014. It has become a starting benchmark for a new project "Building kindergartens". They are placed in residential houses located in new neighborhoods of our cities. We understand that not every young family can afford sending their child to a private kindergarten, so since 1st of January 2016 we have introduced the "Certificate of preschoolers". Budget funds will follow the children, including to the private kindergartens. This will increase competition in market for pre-school education services.
- Natalia Vladimirovna is there enough teachers in Ugra as you open so many new facilities?
- We have extensive program commitments in respect of education. It is well known that education is one of the most money intensive sectors of our budgetary spending. Kids grow up and go to school! Consequently, process of creating places for preschool children and pupils shall be advancing; rooms shall be transformable for different levels of education.
In three years we have commissioned 18 schools for 7260 seats thus having significantly improved the conditions for students, i.e. 97% of schools are provided with all kinds of infrastructure; 87% meet modern requirements for education, these are the best indicators in Russia.
This year, on 1st of September school bell will ring for 197.7 thousand students including 22.6 thousand of first-graders. The first-graders from Oktiabrsky and Kondinsk areas of our district will have a double celebration four new comprehensive rural schools-kindergartens will open their doors.
By the end of the year another 12 rural educational complexes for 1060 people and two urban schools for 1300 people will be commissioned. We have prepared designs and begin the construction of four schools in Surgut, Nizhnevartovsk, and Khanty-Mansiysk for 3500 people.
We have to solve problems and challenges related to decrease in percentage of shifts and stepped transfer of schools to a single-shift, replacement of obsolete buildings built in '70s, changing learning space of schools in accordance with the federal educational standards.
Getting good teachers for schools and kindergartens is an urgent task for us. Experts are now considering the issues of the structure of education, rebuild it, and rearrange accents. Teaching profession is in demand as never before at the district, and is attractive to young people. This is confirmed, for example, by competition for entry into our Surgut Pedagogical University. This year it was 6.5 persons per place. School are waiting for teachers of Russian and foreign languages, mathematics and physics. In June, institutions of higher education and colleges of the District have released more than 500 teachers. So, all vacancies will be occupied primarily by young professionals. Nearly 20% of teachers are young professionals. Our task is to bring them to school; to create necessary conditions for work of the teacher has become really a labor of love for years.
Last year, 247 teachers, graduates of universities have come to employment to schools. All those who needed have been provided with housing: 90 people have received comfortable rooms in dorms, 154 people have been provided with service flats. Teachers in rural areas additionally receive compensation for housing and utilities, in some cities, municipal administrations pay half of cost of teachers' housing rent. Young teachers receive financial support as a lump sum equal to two salaries, and then for the first two years 2200 rubles are added to monthly wages.
- Natalia Vladimirovna, Ugra is a multinational land. How is it reflected in educational policy of the region?
- Historically, it so happened that pioneers from all over the Soviet Union came to extract natural resources of Ugra, oil and gas; and remained to live in the historic homeland of Indigenous Peoples, Khanty, Mansi, and Nenets. Cultural diversity of Ugra is colored by inks of 124 nationalities. Special place, special unifying role is played by the Russian language and culture of the Russian people. Russian values, high spirituality, cultural diversity of all peoples living in the land of Ugra are respected at the district.
From this perspective our education policy aimed at harmonious formation of ethno-cultural identity taking into account migration and assimilation of linguistic and cultural spectrum is being built. Our teachers teach children to respect cultural traditions of all the people of Ugra subject to compliance with general rules of life in society – it is part of educational programs at school. This also applies to children from Ukraine who has come to live here by helping them to muster the Russian language, knowledge of history and traditions of Russia and Ugra, including them in specific social projects.
In areas traditionally inhabited by indigenous peoples of the North, there is a network of educational institutions with ethno-cultural component. Children learn their native language, literature, local history, learn secrets of crafts (hunting and fishing), and are engaged in national sports, folk arts and crafts. There are published books, manuals, periodicals, ABC, dictionaries, fiction. In 2014, on the initiative of the State Library of Ugra there has been established Internet resource the "Literary Ugra" containing information about literary life of the region, local writers, texts of many famous poets and writers of our district are being published thereon. Since the beginning of 2015 there is successfully operating online resource called "Literary map of Ugra", the project of our Ob-Ugric Institute. This resource allows for becoming familiar with literary history of the district, learning the names of great writers and poets of Khanty, Mansi, and Nenets, Aipina, Vagatova, Shestalova, Tarkhanova, Anisimkova and others. Are you familiar with their poetry and prose?
- Well, now you have such a chance. And also I would like to invite you to make sure in friendliness of Ugra people at Festival the "Samotlor Nights" in Nizhnevartovsk. Nizhnevartovsk oilmen have a tradition to gather at one of the July holiday festival days in main street of the city and to show their works of culinary art. This festival is attended by representatives of all nationalities living in this toiler-city. You will be treated to Ukrainian borsch and Ossetian pies, Uzbek pilaf and Tartar chak-chak, Bashkir honey and Russian pancakes with cowberry jam, Khanty fish and salted milk mushrooms. So our multinational Ugra is a toiler.