Friday, December 13, 2013

The Russian literacy crisis: Putin's solution

Everybody thinks they have a literacy crisis. Putin calls for a special commission to support "literature." The common core in the US has called for more nonfiction. There is no evidence for either of these positions. Nobody mentions poverty and lack of access to books.  There is plenty of evidence for providing access to books (libraries).

Putin blames "creative class" for decline in reading standards.  Nov 22, 2013, Calvert Journal
At a meeting with writers, publishers and literary specialists yesterday, President Vladimir Putin lamented the decline in reading standards in Russia — and put the blame at the feet of the "so-called creative class", RIA Novosti reports. 
Speaking at the First Russian Literary Gathering, which was dedicated to the question of "How to return Literature, Reading, the Book and the Word to their high mission and purpose?", The president argued that not enough time was devoted to literature and reading skills in the school timetable. The school programme had become too overcomplicated because of the interference of the "creative class": "As for all these confusions and excess complexities, which often no one understands, they are a result of the fact that representatives of the so-called creative class have worked their way into the ministry of education and there they're making all this up."
As a result, Putin suggested, Russia had lost its place as the country that reads the most. He also expressed regret at the declining standards of Russian speech and announced the creation of a special government fund to support literature. 
The literary meeting was missing some famous faces. Prominent author Boris Akunin, famous for his Fandorin series of detective stories, refused to attend. Akunin wrote on his blog that it was Putin's presence that put him off:  "While there are political prisoners, I simply cannot be near the ruler, even just in the same room as him." 
  • Text: Jamie Rann

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