Yakutia’s Arctic zone saw opening of school districts under the Arctic Teacher project to improve the education quality and to keep teachers on the payroll in the North, the region’s First Deputy Minister of Education and Science Mikhail Prisyazhny told TASS.

"In the Arctic zone, more than 10,000 students study at 95 schools, where about 1,900 teachers work," he said. "A few Arctic districts form a school district to monitor the education quality, exchange teachers and organize competitions. Each district is affiliated with a teacher training college working in the region."

The experience of regional school districts is widely used in Alaska, he added.

Inside districts, a reserve of teachers in different subjects is being formed. Teacher teams are being set up to enhance staff capacities. "A teacher team unites experienced teachers, who are research- and project-minded, participants in the federal programs Village Teacher and Arctic Teacher as well as <...> young and creative-minded teacher innovators," the first deputy minister said. 

Yakutia’s schools and colleges will open teacher training classes to promote school teacher profession among students of the last three years.

"In the past, we had a system of distributing graduates to work in the North, which envisioned higher wages to attract highly qualified staff, but this system is not working now," the official said. "Presently, support measures fall within the purview of the regional authorities. Neither the Village Teacher program nor targeted training of staff can fully meet the current demand for teachers in the Arctic."

Expert’s opinion

Yakutia's Arctic Teacher project will be relevant across the Russian Arctic zone, as all the regions there face shortage of teachers, expert Alexander Vorotnikov, a coordinator of the Project Office for the Development of the Arctic said.

"It is important to pay attention to ways of educating the Arctic peoples. When speaking about their education, we should focus on the educational process, on holiday terms and on the diet. We should initiate and develop state programs for educating the indigenous peoples, as we need specialists, who will be ready for the uneasy conditions of work and life in the Arctic. This education should cover all its levels," the expert said.

In addition to that, the expert continued, it is important to form business competence among the Arctic’s indigenous peoples. "Nowadays, we should teach Arctic entrepreneurship to the natives. Special educational programs for the people, living in the Arctic regions, should be aimed at teaching business, financial and legal aspects. Under the Arctic Teacher program, the specialists should have wide competence and knowledge," he said.

He pointed to the positive experience of boarding schools in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region, where the educational system reflects the traditions, lifestyle and culture of the North’s low-numbered indigenous peoples. "It is important that teachers with state-of-the-art, digital competence come to teach in the Arctic regions. Quite often school students in the Arctic do not have the opportunities, which students on the ‘mainland’ may have. Here, the Quantorium Techno Park’s mobile complexes, which can work in the Extreme North, could be very helpful in remote and hard-to-reach settlements," he added.

According to the scientist, the training should include both the indigenous peoples of the Arctic and those living in the central regions, who will move to the Arctic to work there upon completion of the course. "There are a few educational centers in the Arctic zone, which could teach representatives of the low-numbered indigenous peoples upon requests from regional administrations or from the local communities," the expert said.

Arctic Teacher project

Investments in the Arctic Teacher project in 2020 will make more than 12.5 million rubles ($164,000). Yakutia’s authorities report that 48 of the region’s 120 students undergoing a teacher training course at the North-Eastern Federal University study under the Arctic Teacher program.

By 2024, the region will employ 450 teachers, pay 80 municipal allowances and provide post-graduate professional training for 330 Arctic teachers.