Tatar National Cultural Autonomy has finished the organization of expert group to develop the concept of counteraction to national strife provocation

Tatar National Cultural Autonomy of Sverdlovsk region, governed bythe elected chairman M.M.Sharafulin, has finished the organization of expert group to develop the concept of counteraction to national strife provocation. This theme is of high actuality in the region and is traditionally associated with the religious radical extremist activities. Therefore, speaking of settling interethnic conflicts, education and tolerant religious interpretation are considered to be the first measures.

Formation of the expert anti-terrorist group took autonomy managementover four years. It includes representatives of different religions, public persons and experts in the spheres of law, political science, philosophy, religion and education. The main theme of the first session was prophylaxis of religious tolerance. The search for effective measures to promote intercultural dialogue started with an analysis of the education sphere.

It’s not a secret that the elaboration of the school reform to install religious compulsory subjects in public schools and the process of reform introduction as a discipline «Basis of religious cultures and secular ethics» have had unexpected results. The very fact that parents need to implement a tough choice which religious culture should be studied by their children exacerbated Interfaith manifestations of intolerance. There are fears that if before the extremists recruited children since 16 years, now, the process could begin with a much younger age. When the class is divided with the religious preference principal and a child suddenly begin to realize his neighbor pupilas «infidel» — school bullying fights are transforming to one of a religious character. Conflicts based on clear segregation of students have made parents to balance this situation with the choice of neutral subject — secular ethics. Such «atheization» did not satisfy a lot of religious communities in Russia. Even the head of the title religion, Orthodox Church of Russia, Patriarch Kirill raised the issue of inadequate small number of families who chose basis knowledge of Orthodoxy as a subject and urged parents to recoverin his public speeches. And representatives of non-title religions communities actualized the problem of de-facto illusionary choice for children because even in case of Buddhism preference the number and quality of teachers leave much to be desired.

This wave crystallized the need for alternative solutions. TNCA (SR) has been actively shaped the concept of spiritual and secular education. It should be emphasized that it is not about secondary educational institutions and school reform efforts. On the contrary, the authors propose shifting the ascents of the religious education from secular institutions to the spiritual. Living in a secular state, children should receive a secular education. At the same time, the issues of religious, faith, educational harmonious development of a person is not possible without knowledge of cultures, traditions and beliefs of his countrymen. Undoubtedly, teaching children that knowledge should be characterized as a compulsory subject for the Orthodox, and Muslims, Jews, Catholics, evangelicals and other representatives of more than 200 religious movements in Russia, and also, importantly, for children from atheistsfamilies. That’s why secular ethics, combined with teaching traditions are supported by society. A comprehensive study of the native faith, in addition to the family upbringing, should be done within the walls of educational institutions run by religious organizations, parochial schools, educational classes of national autonomies, madrassas or through active educational work of priests and religious figures. This is the difference between the concepts of spiritual and secular education and last school reform.

The cornerstone of the TNCA (SR) concept is the question of a high religious education in stitutions network creation, that could produce clerics. Regarding this idea — there’s nothing new in it for orthodox universities and Islamic educational in stitutions seem to exist in the Caucasian republics. But the number and level of government support is markedly different between the title and non-title religious institutions. And one can hardly find universities that train leaders of Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism in Russia.

Tatar National Cultural Autonomy of Sverdlovsk region is in favor of are ligious education institution network development focused primarily on religion adaptation to live in a secular multi-ethnic state. It is Russia where experts and specialist in promoting tolerant religious perception of «infidels» are needed. Graduates should guide the communities to intercultural dialogue, emphasizing the values of peaceful interdependence.

The presence of a sufficient amount of clerics trained in Russia, instead of those trained in foreign countries with different government systems and state interests, would reduce the influence of extremist organizations. It would become much more difficult for them to recruit followers among the Russian students living in cities with mixed populations, having friends of other nationalities than from those who are trained in isolation far away from home.

Creating equal conditions for the state support of higher education institutions of different faiths will balance situation in which representatives of national minorities de facto stay in a situation of «second class» people while de-jure live in a multiethnic state. It is no secret that the national minority telecast, organizations, institutions, autonomies are badly subsidized by the regional budgets and have a tendency to self-defense. They are transforming to the clubs of disgruntled people. The lack of national group equality feeds the desire to fight against the majority.

Creating a system of citizens tolerance education in a rank of state policy, but without clericalism, that means without government priority of one religion, promotes peace in the society. The government should form a comfortable environment, but not become a direct preacher. Ideas of studying the different Russian cultures features are understood and accepted by Russians. But the very fact of prematurely teaching religious dogmas immature personalities in schools, combined with the mechanism of dividing them in religious groups, led to natural rejection. Availability of specialists who are ready to work with children in religious supplementary education institutions, and to be also a mentor to adults, offering his interpretation of religious dogma from a position of respect for other faiths, will form a balanced environment of religious education, not aggressive, not frantically clerical and not atheistic.

The concept is currently in the process of legal analysis and refinement. Expert group of the Tatar National Cultural Autonomy of Sverdlovsk Region is planning to offer its final draft for public discussion and submit to the regional authorities. Subject of the next session, according to the source in TNCA (SR) would be linked to issues of internal migration and adaptation.


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