Lilia Gumerova: “Bashkortostan is an example of interethnic and interreligious harmony”
The guest of Tribune show is Lilia Gumerova, the Deputy Head of the Federation Council Committee for Education, Science, and Culture.
- Recently Bashkortostan marked Republic Day. In the summer Ufa hosted the BRICS and the SCO summits, which were great events for Ufa, Bashkortostan and Russia. How is your region developing today?
- Today there are 4.1 million residents, more than 120 peoples and nationalities in Bashkortostan. It is an example of interethnic and interreligious harmony. It is an example of the implementation of major investment projects, especially in the last 5 years. The republic has a powerful industrial and huge cultural potential.
25 years ago the Republic of Bashkortostan adopted a declaration on state sovereignty, and the summits which you mentioned united the multiethnic peoples of the republic once again. They were a starting point for the anniversary arrangements. The summits were held at a high political and organizational level. All the delegations expressed their gratitude to us, and the head of the Chinese delegation said that they opened “a gold mine” of friendship for making investments and fulfilling projects.
When Ufa was considered to be a platform for hosting such serious forums three years ago, we were very excited. It is a great honor and a great responsibility. There were doubts that Ufa would pass such a serious challenge.
- I remember Ufa a few years ago – the old airport and poor hotels…
- The problems were a starting point for the settlement of the issues. Today we have a modern airport which has taken second place in the nomination of ‘The Best Air Gates of Russia.’ It has a modern international terminal, a wide runway. These are new opportunities for the development of the region in general.
Speaking about hotels, I should say that, due to our investors, we have managed to build seven new high-class hotels. They are franchises of world-known hotels.
The republic has invested more than two billion rubles in the reconstruction of cultural facilities. These include the Theater of Opera and Ballet; the Bashkortostan Concert Hall, which was renamed, literally gained a new sound, the best experts were working on it; the Nesterov Museum depository was reconstructed. We also constructed a new platform – the Congress Hall – for holding international events, according to the best technical standards. Kilometers of roads, parks and public gardens have been constructed. They didn’t disappear after the summits in July 2015.
- Vladivostok transformed after the summit of APEC held there and further summits which worked on the platform.
- Yes, and our people united. They marked the republic’s birthday in a good mood. I also visited festive sporting and cultural arrangements.
- Let’s talk about another big international event – the Eurasian Women’s Forum in St. Petersburg. More than 80 countries sent their representatives to the forum, including the USA and many European states. Your section was devoted to charity and humanitarian cooperation. What are the main problems of modern women?
- Our section differed from the others in the fact that we were united by certain projects. It was unique in the composition of participants. More than 140 participants took part in it on the first day. Unfortunately, the forum had a time limit, and only 40 participants managed to speak. Women from various countries of the world came. They spoke about charity projects, the humanitarian mission which they provide at the intergovernmental and local levels in their countries. They stressed the need to unite, to have a united information portal where we could see projects. An exchange of practices of mutual support should exist. An atmosphere of understanding, peace, and personal involvement prevailed at the forum and our section.
Very interesting projects were presented. We presented a project of preservation of traditional family values. It was supported by our colleagues from France, for example, who said: “We are jealous of Russia. You have several laws on support for traditional family values, and we intend to ask Russia for help to spread the situation in other countries, as only a traditional family is able to save the world.”
The war and peace discussion was topical. A representative of Kyrgyzstan said that hundreds of women have left their families for radical Islamist groups. She asked for help and modern methods, modern technologies to prevent this.
It is important to empathize with and feel for each other; it is important that our answer be professional. These issues were also reflected in the resolution of our round table.
There were many interesting charity projects on support for talented children in the spheres of sports and culture, on support for children with health limitations.
The women who came to the forum had saved thousands of lives. Thousands of women became mothers due to them. Thousands of children got tickets to the world of big sport, big art.
We not only presented our projects, but also developed certain decisions, and many of them were reflected in the forum’s resolution.
-I cannot but ask you, as the First Deputy Head of the Federation Council Committee for Education, Science and Culture, about your attitude toward the united state exam. Does the USE fulfill the tasks set for it? Is it necessary to reform it?
-We have made a lot of efforts to make the USE transparent and open. The suggestions voiced by our republic, where I used to work in the social bloc of the government, were heard by 80%. I am not a supporter of scrapping the USE. I am a supporter of the USE as an instrument which is clear for society, for children, for parents and objectively reflects children’s knowledge. There is a lot to do. What have we achieved? First of all, there will be no changes in holding the USE without the agreement of the teaching community, students, and parents. You remember the story when it was decided to correct the USE in September, but pupils didn’t have time to readjust? The social resonance was heard and the changes were postponed.
Moreover, it is important that we don’t use Part A only in the Russian language anymore, the multiple choice section. The trend of distancing from choosing the right answers will continue. Composition was launched in Literature. We reinstated the oral part for Foreign Languages. It is impossible to assess a children's knowledge of a foreign language without listening to them speak it.
It is important that there is a basic level and a profile level in Mathematics. If a child wants to be a musician, is it necessary for him or her to study Mathematics deeply? There should be a specialization. So, we need basic and profile levels.
- Do you think that the Unified State Exam in the test mode in which it is now passed reflects a knowledge of history? How do you feel about the initiative to create a single history textbook?
- I am a supporter of a single history textbook, the concept of a single history textbook. I myself am a teacher and have worked in schools in the past. And I do not understand the reasoning of the pedagogical community that the single textbook somehow constrains creativity. I fundamentally disagree with that, because the single textbook describes the basic concept, dates and their interpretation, which is very important. The creativity of the teachers is not limited. You can create tests, innovative approaches, go to a movie, have a discussion. Of course a single history textbook is required.
We began to be embarrassed when linking history with the education of patriotism, and history is not just a set of facts. Pushkin called history a subject that should nurture patriots. He said that we should saturate pupils with the true disciplines of life, facts, events during the early school years, and to give an interpretation in older age. There is nothing wrong with that, there must be common approachs, and we must teach our children to love our history, know it, especially when there are attempts to falsify historical facts. Every student must give an answer being armed with truth, which is explained to himskillfully, properly and very sensibly at school.
- How do you feel about the problem of distribution after graduation? Many colleges say that it is necessary to engage in distribution, that the state has invested such a sum of money to train up a specialist, and during the first few years the specialist must return his debt to the state working directly in his profession. Does it make sense to go back to such a Soviet tradition as distribution?
- You know, today, just in the first half of the day there was a meeting of the committee, and we discussed the initiative of our colleagues from the State Duma on how to legislate the certain obligations for the intended reception. Here we need to understand, on the one hand, that work in our country is free, and it is constitutionally enshrined, and maybe it is not good to make a person work by force from the top at the present stage. But I would like to focus attention more on target training and increasing the percentage of target enrollment to budget-funded places. That is, a person has the right to learn where he would love to work, where he sees himself, but if we are talking about targeted training, especially in the medical unit and the training of teachers, it means our medical schools and universities that prepare teachers. Here I fully agree. But this target area must be given not to a weak child, that we give even if he is from the countryside, so he can enter, but the target reception area should guarantee admission to gifted children. That means he was studying in medical class, he has won an academic Olympics, and that from this point of view it would be logical if all these conditions were discussed in the agreement that was signed by the three parties. But of course, life is wider, there can be circumstances, which are independent, that could change, force majeure, of course, that's life, and this must be taken into account by the agreement. So I here I would strengthen the percent of the target reception, that we understand that these industries need support, that we gave the title line to children who have a tendency and desire, but at the same time have an obligation to train for budget money and to work a certain number of years. This is right. But in general, this kind of working out has probably outlived itself. And a certain percentage should, so to speak, be on the open market.
- Lilia Salavatovna, have you ever visited the Caucasus?
- Unfortunately, I cannot boast that I am a big connoisseur of the Caucasus. I'm still at the beginning of a long journey. The Caucasus for me is a beauty, a special philosophy and a distinct culture from the perspective of preserving traditions and values. Today there is a ministry in the structure of the government which accumulates the competence to help the North Caucasian republics to promote their projects. I think that's right.
With regard to the South Caucasus, I am happy to be in the group of friendship between the parliaments of Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation. A year ago I visited Baku as a member of a parliamentary delegation, I have the most vivid impressions from it. I was pleased that the Russian language lives in Azerbaijan. We were pleased with the infrastructure, much has been done by our colleagues in terms of legislation and in terms of economic development. We were at an evening dedicated to the anniversary of the birth of Lermontov. I saw both a knowledge of the Russian language and a respect for it. A literate attempt was made to present translations of Lermontov’s work, which increased the number of his fans and connoisseurs.
Many initiatives come from the Committee on Education and Youth Policy [of the Azerbaijani Parliament] on joint activities targeted at preparing students. There is a quota, people come and learn. I am very impressed also with the position of our Azerbaijani colleagues, legislators in terms of immigration legislation. If previously a student [studying in Russia] or high school did not have time to apply to the migration service, problems began – those students were almost deprived of the right to enter the country. We have now obliged the universities to submit this information.
In short, I have very good impressions of the Caucasus as a whole, including the republics with which we were once one country. It is good that now this field is not violated, these links have been saved or restored, new momentum is being gained.
- The film ‘Diamond Hand’, where the heroine Nonna Mordyukova says: "Istanbul is a city of contrasts,’ was shot in Baku. What are your impressions of Baku, can you call it a city of contrasts?
- I would call Baku a city of perfect harmony, combining modernity and the preservation of traditions. I was surprised by the skyscrapers, the modern hotel complexes, the infrastructure, but, of course, struck by the Old Town as well. We were lucky to be there, to walk the streets and see the place where it was said ‘What the hell!'. It was an unforgettable experience. There is an amazing atmosphere of the preservation of traditions, a special Caucasian color in the Old City. Any souvenir shop and the sellers themselves are imbued with this spirit.
- As part of our program Tribune we have a mandatory topic 'From Kamchatka Territory to the Kaliningrad region', in which we ask our visitors about the region they represent, particularly in the upper house of the Russian parliament. Should I come to visit Bashkortostan, and why?
- You need to come to Bashkortostan for sure, to get acquainted with the wonders of the world. We conducted the contest ‘Seven Wonders of Bashkortostan’ this is the highest monumental sculpture of a horse, the monument to Salavat Yulaev, now we have a fountain ‘Seven Girls’ associated with our ancient legend; these are unique health resorts, by the way, in one of them, in the resort Krasnousolsk, our astronauts are undergoing rehabilitation. One of the resorts in the chemical composition of its water is not inferior to the famous spa resort of Baden-Baden.
Bashkortostan is a unique opportunity to see the harmony of religions, confessions and friendship of the peoples, accumulated over centuries. We have very beautiful mosques, churches. We now have festivals that have received support at the all-Russian level and at the international level. These are the international festival of national cultures ‘Berdemlek’ and our famous Symphonic Night, which attracts many thousands of Ufa residents and guests of the republic.
Ufa itself has huge industrial potential, there is oil. A year ago something almost unprecedented happened in history – the controlling stake of ‘Bashneft’ was returned to the state, and now it is a huge support for the budget of the republic.
Bashkortostan is famous for hockey, we have the unique team ‘Salavat Yulaev’, this is football, which is also gaining momentum, it is a unique Bashkir kitchen ...
- I cannot forget the smoked duck ...
- There is kazy [horse sausage], and goose, and kumis, and much more. Therefore, I am pleased to invite you all to Bashkortostan. By the way, in 2013 the presentation of the Republic of Bashkortostan in Paris at UNESCO headquarters took place, and all the embassies gave a standing ovation to the exhibition which represented the industrial and cultural potential, and the folk and professional art, as well as the unique concert, there were 1200 people in the hall.
Now Bashkortostan has got onto the preliminary list with its unique cave rock art Shulgan-Tash (the cave is known for its cave paintings of primitive man of the Paleolithic time). Therefore, I am pleased to invite you all. You won’t regret even for a moment, everyone has a place to rest and there is something to learn in Ufa and Bashkortostan.