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Federal Research Center 
"Krasnoyarsk Science Center of the Siberian
Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences"

 Федеральный исследовательский центр «Красноярский научный центр Сибирского отделения Российской академии наук»

Federal Research Center 
"Krasnoyarsk Science Center of the Siberian
Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences"

The Russian Academy of Sciences opposes the bill on amendments to the Federal Law of the Russian Federation on Education in terms of educational activities

14 January 2021 г. FRC KSC SB RAS

Российская академия наук выступает против законопроекта о внесении изменений в Федеральный закон РФ об образовании в части просветительской деятельности
On January 13, 2021, during the meeting, the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences considered a draft law on amendments to the Federal Law of the Russian Federation on Education in terms of educational activities. A statement urging the State Duma of the Russian Federation to reject this bill was unanimously adopted.

On November 18, 2020, a number of members of the Federation Council and deputies of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation introduced a draft law No. 1057895-7 "On Amending the Federal Law" On Education in the Russian Federation " (regarding the introduction of educational activities)". The proposed amendments were widely criticized by the scientific community, well-known science journalists, and popularizers of science.

In particular, the inexpediency of adopting the amendments was noted during the zero hearings in the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation. The amendments were criticized by the RAS Commission for the Popularization of Science. Vice-President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexei Khokhlov sent a letter to Vyacheslav Nikonov, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Education and Science, urging him to reject the amendments. Despite all the comments, the law passed the first reading in the State Duma of the Russian Federation, and the second reading of the document is scheduled for January 21.

At present, a declaration of scientists and popularizers of science, criticizing the amendments to be adopted, is actively disseminated on the Internet. The Change.org website launched a collection of signatures against the amendments on educational activities. So far the petition has already collected about 25,000 signatures.

The question why the proposed amendments received such a public response is answered by a member of the RAS Commission on the Popularization of Science, head of the scientific communications group of the Federal Research Center "Krasnoyarsk Science Center of SB RAS", Candidate of Biological Sciences, Egor Zadereev.

“Over the last 10 years, in Russia there has developed a rather large network of scientists, scientific journalists, popularizers of science, scientific communicators, who are engaged in education and science popularization in a variety of formats. All this in our country, as well as in other states, has occurred without a direct state regulation. Even in the amendments themselves, it is noted that educational activities shall be carried out outside the framework of educational programs. It is clear why this is so. We often criticize our system of education for inert standards, and strict formal schemes. The unwillingness of the regulated education to respond to the challenges of time has been revealed during the coronavirus pandemic, when the need to go online made a lot of formal procedures impossible. In terms of modern technologies and opportunities, distance education can be no less and sometimes even more effective than the traditional one. But if some formats are not spelled out in the law on education, they will not be legitimate.

In this situation, education, without pretending to issue certificates or state diplomas, is a more flexible tool. Moreover, it allows one to convey information about the achievements of science and technology to audiences of any age and level of education. One of the largest Russian popular science projects, the Science Festival “Science 0+” annually brings together hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren across the country. Another, smaller-scale projects are focused on the corresponding specific audiences. The informal projects Science Slam and Bar Hopping (short popular science lectures and stand-up performances in the evening) are popular among young people. Other people are attracted by scientific performances in museums. Tens of thousands of people across the country were brought together by the campaign aimed at testing scientific literacy "Open Laboratory". For example, in Krasnoyarsk, participants aged 7 to 77 came to participate in the Open Laboratory, supervised by the scientific communications group of KSC SB RAS. In total, there were several thousand people in our city who wanted to test their scientific literacy.

All this variety of formats in the case of licensing, obtaining permits or approval of their content in some committees or departments will just disappear. Many projects are implemented on the enthusiasm of particular scientists or educators. This enthusiasm is fueled by the interest of the audience and public. It is extremely important to understand that in the case of science and education, or a history of modern achievements in science and technology, there will not be a "correct" point of view. If we are talking about advanced science, here, discussions are possible at the cutting edge of scientific knowledge. The story of Newton's three laws, discovered in the 17th century, will be relatively standard. However, the closer we get to modern discoveries, the more likely there will arise a discussion. For example, in the "Open Laboratory" many questions even in such areas of science as physics or biology were controversial. And this is often the essence of education; namely, to give the audience an opportunity to enter into polemics with the lecturer, and to learn something new in the course of the dispute. This is the only way to understand that our concept of the world around us is not a rigid set of facts, but a sort of constantly changing and expanding universe.

Thus, we are talking about a field of activity whose regulation is not just controversial, but rather fatal for it. Even for the Federal Research Center "KSC SB RAS", which is a federal organization, such a law will become an inconceivable and hard burden. Of course, we can, if we wish, collect a little extra documentation or take other necessary measures. But this will give nothing but additional bureaucratic burden. Let alone the private initiatives of individual scientists or popularizers. They will just stop doing it. As a result, a huge number of people will not be able to receive information on the achievements of science and technology, which means the country, in simple terms, will become more stupid."