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Citizenship Education in Russia | Country Profiles: Citizenship Education Around the World |

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Citizenship Education in Russia

Elena Bobrovskaya Ekaterina Lapaeva Inna Popova Elena Charlanova

/ 13 Minuten zu lesen

One of the challenges in Russia is according to the authors the following: Regardless of the general understanding of the necessity of intersectoral cooperation in the field of citizenship education, in practice cooperation is complicated by a low level of mutual trust and differences in organisational cultures.

Russia (© bpb)

1. Background Information

Citizenship education, the goal of which is the targeted formation of concepts regarding standards for the cooperation of individuals with the government and society and the protection of a unified socio-cultural and geopolitical space, is of great importance in the development of the Russian state and society. Traditionally, citizenship education is realised in Russian society by means of active support by the state and is viewed as a matter of national security. In the course of the 20th century, different directions in citizenship education became the focus of attention with regard to students and practices: patriotic upbringing, political education, legal awareness. In the USSR, the ideological backdrop played a vital role in the “education of the builders of communism”. At the start of the 1990s, in the course of the transformation of the government and state education policy, the category of "citizenship education" gained attention.

Against the backdrop of the formation of civil society and the appearance of new legal and cultural systems, the concept of citizenship education was developed. In the law "On education", citizenship education is viewed as one of the founding principles of the government’s educational policy but the goals of and content of citizenship education remain vague in this law.

In the context of the crisis in the country, there was a shift away from increasingly difficult practices of earlier educational work, a reorientation of educational organisations to training, a reduction of services in the field of further education and a weakening of the influence of societal organisations against the backdrop of a significant reduction in interest in education. School subjects for providing citizenship education e.g. (“Citizen management” at comprehensive schools) were added to the educational programme. Centres for citizenship education and training appeared in the context of institutes for improving qualifications using scientific/methodological educational approaches for the purpose of preparing teachers to introduce courses on society. Cooperation between organs of government power and international and domestic societal organisations is increasing in the field of citizenship education.

A discussion on the goals and approaches to citizenship education is ongoing:

  1. the traditional Russian approach in which a citizen is primarily a social actor and public interests are the priority;

  2. the foreign approach in which the priority is the development of the citizen as an individual, the value of individualism and the interests of the individual;

  3. the integration of these approaches. There is interest in the foreign approach, of which realisation is Russia is oriented to the humanitarian paradigm of citizenship education: the foundation for the freedom of individuals and their desire for self-determination and self-realisation.

There are lots of questions at a regional level where regional programmes for the development of citizenship education are emerging and different models with regard to the domestic and foreign experience are being implemented and explored.

From the start of the 2000s, the strategic approach to solving educational problems started to dominate. Once again, the government became the initiator of changes in citizenship education. Discussion is ongoing on the projects relating to Concepts for citizenship education (2003) . In "Concepts for the modernisation of Russian education by 2010" (dated 11 February 2002 No. 393), the formation of citizenship is one of the priorities for government policy in the field of education. The goal is the "education of citizens for life in a domestic state and a civil society".

The approach which was taken to citizenship education consists of the following models:

  1. integrative model - direction of societal education, integrative course for socio-political and legal sciences (in secondary school “People and society”, in higher education with the discipline “Foundations of a social state and civil society”);

  2. political science approach - preparation of participants for a responsible and meaningful life and activities in a democratic, legal state, civil society;

  3. institutional model - creation of a legal basis in educational organisations.

However, citizenship education in Russia encounters problems connected to its methodological and theoretical bases:

  1. the absolute priority of the interests of the individual over and above other interests and demands is unproductive (G. V. Vasilyeva), who instigates the exclusion of citizens from society and the atomisation of society ;

  2. citizenship education realised by predominantly through teaching, which is limited to the provision of experience for citizens’ participation in the life of society (I. D. Frumin) ;

  3. orientation to foreign approaches does not always correspond to the national/cultural specificities and is not always effective;

  4. concern amongst a group of researchers is raised regarding the formation of a new type of citizenship, including a widening of the understanding from a “citizen of a specific government” to a “citizen of the world” (O. V. Lebedeva) .

In recent decades, there has been a re-evaluation of approaches to citizenship education:

  1. in regulatory documents, the priority for this process is defined as the formation of traditional values, inclusion of national interests in citizens’ education which is also reflected in the recovery of one of the priorities of government policy in the field of education for patriotic backgrounds (including military/patriotic and civilian/patriotic upbringing);

  2. use of project models of citizenship education, introduction of planning at all levels of education and creation of conditions for the realisation of social projects by citizens;

  3. orientation to a systemic approach in the formation of citizens’ skills (knowledge, relationships, skills, experience of activities);

  4. creation of links between educational institutions and civil society organisations;

  5. increasing the status of education.

One distinguishing feature of the contemporary approach to citizenship education in Russia, according to G. A. Klyucharev and I. N. Trofimova, is the emphasis on the idea of the stability, security and integrity of the state . The status of citizens is transformed from “an innate component given from above” into a socio-political construction and citizenship education in the broadest sense becomes an instrument of this construction. The conscious connection of opportunities in formal education to the formation of practices of civic participation in the life of society in Russia is initiated with the integration of educational programmes and social practices by means of the interaction of learners at all levels of education with social partners in different social spheres.

The development of systems of citizenship education in the contemporary world represents dialogue between different subjects, the search for agreement on how to work in the context of polar differences between key oppositions:

  1. "global - national approach", i.e. citizenship education with global values and preserving national character;

  2. "interests of the individual (personal success) - public benefit", i.e. protecting the interests of the individual and civil society as a whole (public benefit), requiring social responsibility from citizens, cooperation, partnership;

  3. "self-realisation - cooperation", i.e. in the context of the spread of digital technologies and cementation of information media, groups create intergenerational, interinstitutional, intercultural dialogue;

  4. "reproduction - transformation", i.e. how, on the one hand, to ensure the maintenance of values amongst citizens, compliance with the law, responsibility and, on the other hand, involvement in change and the transformation of civil society.

2. Definition of Citizenship Education

Citizenship education is linked to the existence of civil society, which is undergoing dynamic change. The question of who represents a citizen of contemporary Russia and what citizenship skills they should have remains controversial, as does the definition itself.

From a content perspective, civil society includes a range of spheres: sociocultural, moral, political, legal, patriotic, public, economic, personal; this is also related to processes of citizenship education, training, development and processes of self-definition, responsibility and participation in the life of society.

From an axiological perspective, citizenship education is oriented to the socialisation of individuals using the transmission of value systems and the creation of conditions for absorbing the standards and rules of public life. The list of citizenship values in contemporary Russian society, presented by N. A. Grigoryeva and I. L. Yatsukova, includes public benefit, human rights, freedom, fairness, equality, pluralism, truthfulness and patriotism .

Citizenship education is connected to the formation of citizenship competencies and the ability to be a citizen and participate in the political, legal and public life of society.

Attention should be paid to the creation of understanding which includes different components and aspects developed in a collegial manner.

  1. Citizenship education is a system of education and learning for individuals, establishing conditions for the formation of a moral citizenship position, citizenship competencies and the acquisition of experience of public/useful citizenship activities in the context of continuous education (Memorandum on citizenship education, 2002) .

  2. Citizenship education is a public/state, socially-oriented system of continuous learning and education that aims to foster citizenship skills and democratic culture and satisfy societal needs for socialisation in the interests of the individual, civil society and the rule of law (report, 2018) .

3. Ecosystem of Citizenship Education

Citizenship education is realised in the continuing education system.

  1. In formal education (organisations providing general, professional education and improving qualifications) within the framework of specific disciplines, educational work and organisations in the area of education/learning. Its content is primarily defined by the federal state educational standard (FGOS), federal programmes and regional regulatory acts, approaches to teaching groups by educational organisations and original programmes by teachers. FGOS lists skills which graduates should have and the development of which is supported. These expected results often do not correspond with citizens’ skills. In order to solve the tasks which are on the cards, the educational organisation should consult with external partners and work together with other educational, cultural and public organisations, develop socially-oriented project activities and facilitate the development of self-government.

  2. In the course of realising state youth and social policy, in the further education system for children system, as part of federal, regional and local network projects and structures. Often, in these cases, an understanding of civic/patriotic education is used as one of the main goals, namely, the conservation of traditional spiritual/moral values, an upbringing characterised by love for one’s country and a responsible relationship to one’s city and country and experience of democratic participation. Events take place to achieve the harmonisation of international, interethnic relationships and the preservation of historical memorials, as well as to combat extremism. Military/patriotic and voluntary associations and self-government structures (for children, young people and the public) are set up and supported. Almost everywhere, programmes are being realised to support social initiatives. It is significant that this work is oriented to official state policy and to supporting the stability and robustness of the state and society.

Educational and enlightenment projects brought to life by NGOs, commercial organisations, proactive groups, religious organisations, private universities and other independent subjects also exist. In this field, innovative projects often exist and are comprised of current topics which are then discussed at the level of government structures and are reflected in programmes. This sector actively borrows and reprocesses global practices and participates in international collaborations. For example, from this sector in particular, practices from citizenship education started to spread in the field of anti-bullying, inclusion, social enterprise, ecology, urbanism, cultural and creative industries etc. Some topics and directions still mostly remain in this niche and are not included in centralised programmes. This relates, for example, to legal education, anti-discrimination, the development of horizontal structures and teams, cultural dialogue and non-violent communication etc.

4. Legal environment

At a federal level, policy in the field of citizenship education has undergone some existential changes in the past ten years. It relies on the "Strategy for the development of education in the Russian Federation in the period up to 2025", which was adopted in 2015 . A separate department is dedicated to citizenship education. Lots of regions introduced their own concepts for civic or civic/patriotic education, which primarily match the federal strategy in terms of their content.

The Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education from 2010 which was ratified by Russia is still a key document at the level of the National Youth Council of Russia and Association of NGOs, which is indirectly realised in the system of formal education on the basis of state regulatory acts. Cooperation with foreign partners takes place in accordance with the position set out in the “Law on foreign agents”, which was adopted in 2012 (272-F3) and supplemented in 2020 (481-FЗ) .

In 2020-2021, a range of legislative changes came into force.

  1. The federal law of 30 December 2020 No. 489-F3 “On youth policy in the Russian Federation” came into effect, in which civic/patriotic education is based on youth policy.

  2. Changes were brought about to the federal law “On education in the Russian Federation”:

    1. in the field of student education (No. 304-F3) - to improve the status of education and bring about the educational realisation of working programmes for education into educational organisations in the country;

    2. in the field of educational activity (No. 85-FЗ) — strengthening of control over the content and implementation of educational activities.

As of 1 January 2021, the realisation of the federal project “Patriotic education for citizens of the Russian Federation” was launched in Russia as part of the national “Education” project, the aim of which is to ensure harmonious development in education and social responsibility of individuals on the basis of the spiritual/moral values of the peoples of the Russian Federation and historical and national/cultural traditions. These new additions are predictably influencing the ecosystem of citizenship education in Russia.

5. Stakeholders

The state has an active position with regard to the development of citizenship education. This is shown by the strength demonstrated by the government regarding the involvement of the public in the process of citizenship education for the population, the strengthening of links between their subjects: educational organisations (general, professional, additional education and improving qualifications) and social institutes (commercial, non-commercial, public, public/state, religious). In connection with this, the subjects play their role. The federal structures provide a general space and agenda with regard to citizenship education and the agency for youth affairs “Rosmolodezh” plays an active role in this, as does its structural units. Non-commercial organisations and small proactive groups are increasingly involved with questions of innovation, working with difficult topics.

The Presidential Grant Foundation provides support for civic initiatives in the country. The activity of the platform “Russia - a country of opportunities” is aimed at developing the potential of individuals. Various resource centres and support centres work on social initiatives, as well as third age institutes. The institute is widening its activities in the field of education regarding representatives on child rights and human rights. From 2013 onwards, every year the All-Russian Citizens Forum takes place, which provides a huge educational meeting place for establishing dialogue between the government and NGOs, including subjects of citizenship education.

6. Challenges

Regardless of the general understanding of the necessity of intersectoral cooperation in the field of citizenship education, in practice cooperation is complicated by a low level of mutual trust and differences in organisational cultures.

Nowadays, a large number of tools for increasing the level of citizen participation in public life are being used and implemented: student and study self-government, joint planning, proactive budget planning etc. Against this backdrop, the main obstacle for their work is still the insufficient formation of culture for democratic citizen participation.

The system of formal education experiences difficulties with preparing competent experts to realise citizenship education programmes. Teachers need to understand and be aware of how to take into consideration the variability and inconsistencies of the social/political and cultural context nowadays. One further challenge in the realisation of educational programmes is connected to the necessity of increasing the level of participants’ activity and accepting the value situation of citizens for the shaping of citizenship identity and skills but, in the educational process, work is primarily carried out with the cognitive sphere and the role of training is only gradually becoming established.

Among the participants in civic non-formal education, we can see a desire to develop a unique approach to the logic and content of the programmes being implemented. An analysis of the educational practices at socially-oriented NGOs demonstrates the presence of potential for work with various aspects of citizenship education but the social effect has not been researched sufficiently: the topic of evaluating results is only just starting to gain importance in the non-commercial sector.

In general discourse on citizenship education, an understanding of critical thinking, media literacy, skills of working with others and cultural dialogue, diversity etc. is gradually being developed. Regardless of the fact that public dialogue is made more difficult by polarisation and poorly-developed communication skills , its spread nowadays is of vital importance for the conditions of development of citizenship education and its values, which include the value of pluralism regarding approaches in the field of citizenship education.



  1. Grigoryeva, N. A. Government policy and the practice of development of citizenship education in Russia (1958–2006.). Volgograd: “Peremena”, 2009. — 32 p. pp. 22–23.

  2. Memorandum “Current tasks for citizenship education in Russia”, 2003. [Externer Link:] Accessed 15 May 2021.

  3. Letter by the Russian Ministry of Education "On citizenship education for learners at general educational organisations in the Russian Federation" dated 15.01.2003 No. 13-51-08/139.

  4. Vasilyeva, G. V., Understanding "citizenship education" and the main directions of its realisation at modern universities. Council of Rectors No. 10, 2012. 5: 34–39.

  5. Frumin, I. D. Citizenship education: controversial moments and potential trends. Headteacher of school No. 5, 1997. 2: 57–58.

  6. Lebedeva, O. V. Development of citizenship education in Russia (18th to the start of the 21st century). Kirov: publisher VyatGU, 2005. — 34 p.

  7. Klyucharev, G. A., Trofimova, I. N. Citizenship education in the interests of the individual, society and the state. Education and science in Russia: status and potential for development, 2016. 14: 87–105.

  8. Grigoryeva, N. A. Yatsukova, I. L. Citizenship education in Russia: history and contemporary situation. Study guide. Moscow: Mir nauki, 2020. — 133 p.

  9. Memorandum "Current tasks for citizenship education in Russia", 2003. [Externer Link:]. Accessed 15 May 2021.

  10. Enforcement practice in the field of citizenship education and enlightenment in the field of human rights, 2018, under the editorship of the doctor of psychology A. Y. Sungurova [Доклад_2018.pdf]. Accessed 15 May 2021.

  11. Order by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation dated 17 December 2010 No. 1897 "On the approval of the federal state educational standard for basic general education".

  12. Strategy for the development of education in the Russian Federation in the period up to 2025. Approved on 29 May 2015 by the order of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 996-r.

  13. Council of Europe Charter on Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education. Recommendation CM/Rec (2010)7.

  14. Federal law of 30 December 2020 No. 481-FЗ, supplementing the federal law of 28 December 2012 No. 272-F3 "On measures to influence individuals involved in violating fundamental human rights and freedoms and the rights and freedoms of citizens of the Russian Federation".

  15. Federal law of 30 December 2020 No. 489-F3 "On youth policy in the Russian Federation".

  16. Federal law of 31 June 2020 No. 304-F3 "On the introduction of changes to the federal law 'On education in the Russian Federation' on matters relating to the training of learners".

  17. Federal law of 5 April 2021 No. 85-F3 "On the introduction of changes to the federal law ‘On education in the Russian Federation’ on matters relating to the training of learners".

  18. Khludova, E. N. Specificities of political and cultural participation of young people in the conditions of the transformation of contemporary Russian society. Tula: publisher TulGU, 2006. — 26 p.

  19. Weiser T., 2020 Imitating Dissensus in the Agonistic Public Debates in Russian Political Talk-Shows in the 2010s. The Public. Vol. 27 (1).

  20. Gladaryev, B. Public muteness syndrome: history and contemporary practices of public debates in Russia, 2017. Externer Link:


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