The contradictions of education in Russia: Resilient and struggling schools in the context of rural depopulation and decline
This chapter examines the characteristics of high- and low-performing schools in disadvantaged areas of rural Russia. It first provides a historical context of the persistent spatial inequalities that differentially shape opportunities for rural youth, with a specific focus on the differences in academic outcomes and opportunities for rural and urban graduates. The last section of the chapter describes a qualitative study conducted in rural schools in two very different regions of the Russian Federation: the Tomsk Oblast region and the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). A wide range of factors, including school characteristics, family, environment, as well as individual knowledge and experiences, shape school experiences. The chapter identifies effective and ineffective practices used by schools and educational leaders within disadvantaged rural communities but notes that, in the context of rural depopulation and economic decline, “effective” education that enables young people to take advantage of largely urban opportunities may simply hasten the decline and abandonment of rural villages.