Russia to retrain Ukraine veterans as teachers of new defense course in schools
PHOTO CAPTION: Representational photo — A student from the General Yermolov Cadet School takes part in weapons training during a two-day field exercise near the village of Sengileyevskoye, just outside the south Russian city of Stavropol April 13, 2014. Picture taken April 13, 2014. REUTERS/Eduard Korniyenko/File Photo
By Andrew Osborn
(Reuters) - Russia has set up a centre to prepare veterans of the war in Ukraine to teach schoolchildren a new security and defence course, the education minister said on Wednesday, the latest sign of rising military influence in Russian society.
Moscow has been overhauling its school curriculum since launching what it calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine early last year. New textbooks provide a revised interpretation of the fall of the Soviet Union, the Putin era and the causes of the Ukraine war.
It is also updating an existing course to include basic military training for children aged 16 and over and a module on Russia's armed forces and how to serve in them.
The new course, which according to the education ministry includes studying how to handle a Kalashnikov assault rifle and various hand grenades as well as self-defence, is called "Fundamentals of Security and Defence of the Motherland".
Education minister Sergei Kravtsov was quoted by the state news agency TASS on Wednesday as saying:
"... A centre has been created this year ... to retrain teacher-veterans of the special military operation, and those who have taken part in combat, to implement the rollout of a new course that prioritises practical training."
The full version of the course will be taught in schools from Sept. 1 next year.
Some elements, such as basic military training, a staple of schools during much of the Soviet era, have been rolled out this month as part of the existing course for pupils in grades 10 and 11, Russian media say.
Pupils on the same course will also learn about combat drones - increasingly important on the battlefield, according to the defence ministry, which has advised the education ministry.
President Vladimir Putin said in July he wanted veterans to be actively involved in public life.
Official figures show that at least 133,000 people have been officially designated veterans of the Ukraine conflict, which affords them and their families a raft of financial and other benefits.
(Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Kevin Liffey; Editing by)