OREANDA-NEWS. October 5, 2011. Dmitry Medvedev congratulated Russias educators on Teachers Day and presented the award to the national contest winner, biology teacher Alexei Ovchinnikov from Lipetsk Region.

The President met with the winners of the National 2011 Teacher of the Year contest before the award ceremony, discussing with them general education issues, social protection and financial support for educators, and the possibilities for launching a new educational television channel.

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Speech at award ceremony of the National 2011 Teacher of the Year contest

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Friends,

First of all, I want to congratulate you all most warmly on this holiday Teachers Day. Following tradition, we are presenting the teacher of the year awards today.

Teachers Day is a national holiday in the sense that everyone in the country is aware of it. We have some professional holidays that are very important, but that not everyone knows about, but everyone knows Teachers Day, because we all went to school once and most of us were or are the parents of schoolchildren.

I can tell you that I was surprised to learn that 14 million people are celebrating this day today in Russia. Who are these 14 million? First, they make up a tenth of our population, and second, they are all teachers and students of course.

This really is a holiday for the whole country, and it is good that we are now celebrating it together with so many others around the world. UNESCO declared this date an international holiday nearly 20 years ago, in 1994. It is an occasion for us to talk about not just what we have accomplished, but also to look into the future.

I had a discussion just before with the winners of this years Teacher of the Year contest. This is not my first such meeting, and I always find it interesting and always wonder what kind of people this years winners will be. I can tell you that they are excellent people indeed. What is it that makes them so good?

They truly are the elite in the teaching profession, and at the same time, it is very good to see that their number includes very young teachers who in the short space of five-seven years have managed to win the kind of respect that earned them their recognition in this contest.

Second, it is also excellent to see that they are all like-minded people with whom it is easy to communicate. I had a very good meeting with them just before because I had the sense of being among a team of fellow thinkers who have all chosen to devote themselves to the teaching profession, which, in all countries and throughout all history has always been a very difficult job.

At the same time, we all see the opportunities ahead. Our educational future has a clear outline reflected in the education development concept that you know, and in the Our New School initiative. This is the strategy we are pursuing, but at the same time, we must continue to follow events and keep watch on developments, keep looking at what else we can do.

I was very pleased to be able to look back today at the progress we have made over this last year in reconstructing old school buildings and building new ones, and of course in resolving one of the biggest problems in the sector that of teachers pay.

I dont know whether you all have the same feeling, but during my meeting with the teachers before, one of them said though I dont know if these were just words spoken to make me happy, or if they were truly sincere - I got a pleasant surprise when I saw my pay slip.

I dont know if all of you have had such pleasant surprises, but whatever the case, I want to assure you all that the policy of developing our schools and raising teachers pay that we adopted several years ago will continue without question.

The decision to bring teachers pay into line with the average level in each region and part of our country will be implemented. It is already in effect in almost half of the regions, and we will complete this process in all of the regions over the course of the year. I think this is very important.

I will not tire you with figures right now, but one figure cited today really is impressive because it shows just what potential our education development has. During the discussion on various issues I heard that the countrys total consolidated education budget comes to more than 2 trillion rubles, and this budget and our education spending did not decrease even during the crisis period. What does this signify?

This shows that our priorities are clear. I want to assure you that we will continue in this way because education is the cornerstone of development in the twenty-first century, and your work, your mood, are of vital importance for our childrens mood and studies, and thus for our countrys future.

Once again, I congratulate you sincerely on Teachers Day. It is probably time now to move on to todays big moment announcing the winner of the National 2011 Teacher of the Year contest.