A Liberal-Democratic lawmaker is asking the Defense and Education ministers to reinstate military training in schools, quoting the positive example of the Soviet Union and claiming that the move would effectively counter draft dodging.
In a letter MP Roman Khudyakov is asking the two ministers to join forces in developing a new school program that would include Russian military history, basic military training and introduction to various pieces of military hardware. He also suggested modelling the course on the Soviet-era “basic military training” lessons that were a part of universal education for boys and girls alike.
“We need to pursue a more active policy of patriotic upbringing for the young. During the Soviet period the schools were preparing young men for military service. Back then, every boy could use firearms and protect himself and his close ones,” the politician said in an interview with Izvestia daily. “A real man must know from his early childhood that he is first of all a protector,” Khudyakov added.
The initiative to return military training to schools has been put forward by politicians before, including President Vladimir Putin. In 2010 Putin urged it at a meeting with veterans along with the idea to bring back the DOSAAF – a nationwide system of military-technical clubs that used to give teenagers a taste in many military-related professions, including aviation. The president said then that the military were complaining that conscripts could not get sufficient training when started from nothing, especially after the term of compulsory military service had been cut from two years to one.
A bill suggesting the return of basic military training in schools was drafted in March 2013 by MP Aleksey Zhuravlev of the parliamentary majority party United Russia. It received support from some MPs but opposed by others, who said the current broader “basic safety” course covered the issues necessary for ordinary people, and mass military education was not required in the country transitioning from universal conscription to a professional military force.
Experts treated the new initiative with equal caution. The head of the Children’s Psychologists’ Association, Aleksandr Kuznetsov told reporters that the school must teach creation and not destruction, and the emphasis on weapons and violence could leader to school shootings like the one that took place in Moscow in February this year.
A Defense Ministry spokesman said that they had not yet received Khudyakov’s letter and declined to make any comments until the document is studied. The Education Ministry has also declined to comment on the initiative.