RUSSIA - CULTURE - EDUCATION
1. Russian children begin school when they are 6 years old. Elementary school consists of the first 4 grades, middle school consists of 5 grades and high school is 2 grades. It is only required that children attend the first 9 grades. After that a child can go to work or do work/study. If a child wants to go to the University, however, he or she must complete all 11 grades. There are approximately 25-30 students in each class. All students learn at least one foreign language in school. Russian education system has three levels: school (called "school's education"), college ("middle education" and University ("high education"). A University education is more prestigious and higher than a College/middle education. Children either walk or take public transportation to get to school. The elementary, middle and high schools are located in 1 building, so all the children from the neighborhood go to the same place. School buses are only used by children who attend private schools. If parents want to send their children to a specialized school, they must arrange for the child's transportation to that school. All grades begin at 8:30 in the morning and children attend school Monday through Friday. There are 4 terms in a school year. Between the terms are vacations. The biggest vacation is for 3 months during the summer; the smaller vacation, in the fall is for 1 week. During the school day, children have a hot breakfast or snacks and dinners. It is very inexpensive to buy these things at school and children generally do not bring their own food from home. After classes children can stay at school, much like after-school programs in the U.S. until 6 pm. During this time the children can play, do homework, or participate in other activities such as dancing, singing, painting, or sports. These after-school programs are for free. Children are expected to be ready if the teacher calls them to answer homework questions or problems at the blackboard. If a student is not ready he or she will receive a bad grade. The grading system is: 5-excellent, 4 - very good, 3 - satisfactory, 2 - negative mark - if a student is not prepared or if his answer was very bad. Student's grades are not treated as confidential. All classmates know exactly who received which grade; the reason is to encourage children to compete for better grades. Poor grades are an embarrassment. If a student is graduating a school with only "5"s, and has had no lower grades in total marks for all 11 years, he or she will receive a "Gold medal". If the student has one "4" he or she will receive a "Silver medal". Earning a Gold medal is a big advantage for admission to a higher educational institution. There are many free (state) specialized schools in Russia. In addition to the curriculum taught in general schools, these schools also have a concentration in math or physics or foreign language. There are also separate music schools but this is an extra activity that a student would go to after their regular school day. Admission to these specialized schools is based on an entrance exam or a special aptitude. Some of these specialized schools are boarding schools; where the children live and only go home for vacation times. Unlike the U.S., students remain in the same classes with their first grade classmates from 1st through 11th grade. The classmates therefore know each other very well because they study and grow up together. After school classmates remain lifelong friends. Another very big difference between Russian and American schools is the amount of discipline and respect between teacher and student. Russian teachers are very strict and the children cannot talk, misbehave or be disrespectful in the classroom; it simply is not tolerated. This is true at the college and university level as well. As in the U.S., students usually perform a concert or some type of show for the holidays that is performed for the entire school. Russian students often...
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