Moscow education is digitizing
Slowly, but surely, Russian education is digitizing. Over the weekend a new service opened up for Muscovites – from now on, citizens can sign up their children for elementary school online. Unlike the trial run, this version allows to sign up kids for any school, not just the ones in the area of one’s official residence. However, there still remains the issue of the allocated number of students. Kommersant explains that if a particular school receives more submissions that it has available slots, it will be able to outsource its educational services on the territory of other schools, essentially providing the sought-after form of education, but in a different location. The daily reminds that enrollment of first-graders is a sensitive issue in the Russian capital. Prior to the digital enrollment for local schools which launched last year, parents had to deal with it through the “first come first served” method – needless to say, this led to numerous quarrels and scandals. Parents had to camp out in front of the school for a few days before start of admissions, guarded their spots at night and even resorted to physical violence – all for a chance to send their children to a school they chose. The daily reports that according to public officials the digital sign-up was a success with 90% of parents making use of it in the past year. But, with the local nature of enrollment, until now parents were limited with their choices. As the daily explains, the problem wasn’t really solved for families not living where they’re registered. The new system allows city-wide registration – a parent may apply to three schools, one of which has to be local. The local school then invites the parents for a tour in hopes of persuading them to stay local. With the aforementioned practice of “branching out” of popular schools, some experts believe school “unification” is possible in the future.
Izvestia has an update on the ongoing scandal surrounding the Russian military uniform – with the Russian “General Frost” not playing favorites and coming down on the armed forces with full power, the recently-introduced uniforms were proven to be unfit for duty. The most recent decisions, however, concern the summer version of the uniform. The updated gear has been approved last week by the new Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and experts have already analyzed it – turns out, that the Russian uniform is basically a copy of the US ACU - Army Combat Uniform. The article has already performed a side-by-side comparison of the developmental prototype issued to Russia special ops units with the ACU readily available for purchase online – turns out that there are both similarities and differences. For instance, fashion designer Valentin Yudashkin, who has created the previous ‘new’ design which wound up stirring up controversy apparently due to ‘modifications’ made by the Ministry, told the newspaper that the only differences are the color and sizing of details. Other experts point out that some of the details copied actually have no use in the Russian military – for example, holders for insigniaThe bottom line is, regardless of the origin of the uniform, it’s believed to be well-suited for field duty.
Russian internet is about to get self-censored, Novye Izvestia writes. Last Friday Telecom Minister Nikolai Nikiforov has announced the creation of a new NGO called “Clean Internet” – this new body will be entrusted with maintaining that blacklist of websites with illegal information – a job which currently rests with the ICT and media watchdog Roskomnadzor; three more bodies currently can make judgment calls whether a site should be banned: the Ministry of Interior, the Federal Drug Control Service and the Federal Service for Control in the Sphere of Protection Consumers’ Rights and Well-Being of Humans. It is likely the new body will take over the whole ‘cleanup effort’ in as little as two months. Internet-experts point out that at this time it appears the government tries to force the internet industry to censor itself, which is a futile task, as companies refute by explaining it’s up to law enforcements to decide if something is legal or not. The potential success of the self-governing NGO rests on the decision to be made by major internet service providers – so far, big players have not made an official decision to join the organization, the daily concludes.
The Moscow Times also has news of the internet variety. Although Russian proposals on Internet regulation ahead of Monday's opening of the International Telecommunication Union conference in Dubai have worried anti-censorship watchdogs around the globe, some local experts aren't expecting any significant changes to the US-centric system that administers the technical aspects of the World Wide Web. For instance, Andrei Kolesnikov, director of the Coordination Center for National Domain Names, the organization that administers Russian domain endings .ru and .рф believes that “there won't be anything earth-shattering.” Most Russian internet experts believe that officials will leave the session in Dubai without making major alterations given the Americans' historical role in developing the Internet, inflexibility on the part of the United States, European countries and other developed nations, or just plain red tape. The absence of changes will be "due to the organizational and bureaucratic processes" at the ITU, Kolesnikov said.