Is it possible for a resident foreigner to send their children to a Russian state school?

Non-Russian speaking children must reach a level of basic knowledge of Russian to study at state school.

Non-Russian speaking children must reach a level of basic knowledge of Russian to study at state school.

Sergey Pyatakov/RIA Novosti
The two main obstacles faced by expats who want their children to study at local Russian schools is obtaining the proper residential status and having sufficient knowledge of the Russian language.

Free for all

One of the first questions that a foreign citizen has after moving to Russia and starting work is whether his children have the right to study locally and get a full-fledged education. He can certainly choose a private academy, but what about state schools?

Children of resident foreign citizens can enjoy a free education at Russian schools under the same conditions as Russian citizens, but only after they establish their official residential status in the country, the Ministry of Education told Russia Beyond.

Parents should submit an application to the chosen school, as well as provide birth and registration certificates, medical card and an individual insurance account number (SNILS) that can be obtained for each person who legally lives on the territory of Russia, including their children.

The application should be made in Russian through the Public Services Portal of the Russian Federation. After registering, a parent can file an application that is active for Moscow as of Dec. 15.

The application is reviewed and answered in 30 days. After the school sends an invitation, the required documents should be sent in printed form.

Not far from home

The Public Services Portal offers the opportunity to choose up to three schools, with one located in the district of residential registration. Parents may ask to send their child to a school in a different area, but there will be no guarantee of placement there, said Nadezhda Sharay, director of Moscow Gymnasium No. 1504.

The candidate will be considered after the main group of children, she added. Children can attend a local school, or choose homeschooling with exams and certification at a local school. In any case, they must study; education for minors is obligatory in Russia.

If parents don’t enroll their children, the municipal child services office has the right to hold them accountable and even deport their children.

Nowhere without Russian

Getting into a school is only half the challenge. The other half is studying. A full-fledged education is possible only with proper knowledge of the Russian language. A child who doesn’t speak Russian will slow down the entire class.  

To solve this problem, the Ministry of Education launched several programs to help foreign children learn Russian. One measure was the creation in 2006 of specialized Russian language schools. They are a subdivision in the Russian public school system.

In the course of the school year, non-Russian speaking children must reach a level of basic knowledge of Russian, which is necessary to go on to further studies.

According to Sevda Seidova, head of the Russian language program at school No. 157, the main subjects are grammar and phonetics, which are also combined with classes in handicrafts and physical culture. Homework is usually made with a teacher’s assistance because parents also often don’t speak Russian well.

After a year of study the child receives psychological and pedagogical recommendations for future education at a state school, Seidova said. 

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