The new law will restrict the work of popularizers of science. How and who will he touch?

Law "On Education" will be changed again

The initiative of the bill that should regulate

educational activities, first voiced inCommission on Counteracting Foreign Interference in the Federation Council in November 2020. Then the head of the commission, Andrei Klimov, said that the bill would make it possible to secure the possibility of dismissing teachers if signs of inciting hatred, extremism and undermining the constitutional order were found in their educational activities. Later that month, the document was submitted to the State Duma for consideration and adopted in the first reading at the end of December.

According to the document, educationalactivities, in particular the reading of popular science lectures, will have to be controlled by the government, and for such activities it will be necessary to obtain a special license after a government conclusion. The authors explain the need for the bill by the fact that the absence of any regulation allegedly "creates preconditions" for "uncontrolled" propaganda by "anti-Russian forces under the guise of educational activities" among schoolchildren and students. The commission is confident that the popularization of science may hide "discrediting state policy, revising history, undermining the constitutional order."

The bill should consolidate the concept of "educational activities" in the law "On Education". Amendments for the second reading should be ready by January 21, 2021.

"These amendments are harmful to society"

To find out how the new bill will affectRussian scientists and popularizers of science, the editorial staff of "Haytek" talked with Sergei Valentinovich Nazarov, a researcher at the Crimean Observatory, a specialist at the Sevastopol "Quantorium" and a specialist in working with talented youth at the Sevastopol State Technical University (SevGU). He frequently travels around the country giving lectures on astronomy. Sergey Nazarov recently took part in writing an article for Astronomy Reports about the processes responsible for X-rays in some quasars.

For him, the popularization of science and astronomy inIn particular, it is both a hobby and work at the same time. In the early 2010s, as a specialist, he was increasingly asked questions related to both professional and amateur astronomy. “Then I realized that sharing my knowledge is my duty to society. When I myself was just starting to get involved in astronomy, I absolutely did not have enough information and live communication with my own kind and more advanced astronomers, ”Nazarov explains.

Photo: Anastasia Nikiforova

In his social networks, the scientist pays attentionon the problem of accepting new amendments and urges to sign a petition against. The astronomer is sure that the very concept of “popularizer of science” will soon disappear into oblivion. Before the new bill is adopted in the second reading, Sergei agreed to answer several questions for the editorial board of "Haytek".

- So, soon may come into force new amendments to the law on education. What do you think is wrong with them?

- In general, it's not like that. They are simply not needed. Moreover, they can also be harmful to society.

- How do you assess the state of development of science in Russia?

- Unfortunately, we are lagging behind in many scientificthe fronts here, "below", do not feel at all that the "top" were also concerned about this and made titanic efforts to rectify the situation. A little over 30 years ago, we were one of the most developed countries in the world in terms of both basic and applied sciences. The difference with the same with the Americans was extremely insignificant.

Now the gap in the annual number of articles in the field of fundamental sciences is more than one order of magnitude.

Sergey Nazarov, Researcher of the KrAO, Specialist of the Sevastopol "Quantorium" and on work with young people at SevSU

- How will the new bill affect the situation?

- It is difficult to predict accurately, since the law is stillnot accepted and even if adopted in its current form, it will still be finalized and overgrown with accompanying documents. Right now, the main thing is confidently clear: the law is restrictive and therefore will not contribute in any way to the development of science.

- You closely communicate with other scientists and popularizers of science. What are the sentiments in the scientific community?

- The mood is generally similar - from bewilderment to violent indignation.

- According to the authors of the project, one of the goals of the amendments is to prevent “negative foreign interference” in education. What do you think about this?

- I think that in this case it is necessary to limit a specific foreign influence, if, according to the authors, it poses some kind of danger, and not the activities of popularizers of science.

Government control

The bill refers to the "educationalactivities "outside the educational programs of schools and universities. Often, it is outside of general educational institutions that people are really fond of science. On a voluntary basis. Thanks to the enthusiasts of educational activities.

By the way, what falls under this definition?

Most educational activities in documenta broad definition is given. As conceived by the developers of the new bill, it can be aimed at disseminating knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, experience and competence for the purpose of intellectual, spiritual and other human development. A very broad concept, which includes not only popularizing scientists, but also authors of thematic blogs. The authorities are confident that the government should establish the procedure for monitoring such activities.

The authors of the amendments are unhappy that the law does notdoes not define the "order of implementation" of educational activities and does not put forward any requirements for its participants. As stated in the explanatory note, such measures can be aimed at "discrediting" Russian politics, "revising history and undermining the constitutional order."

RAS against amendments. Russian scientists called them offensive

The new amendments have already been opposed by the RussianAcademy of Sciences (RAS). The Presidium sent a request to the State Duma to revoke the draft law on educational activities, where it is proposed to oblige to obtain licenses for it from the government to prevent foreign interference, propaganda of extremism and discord. The meeting of the Presidium was broadcast on the Scientific Russia YouTube channel.

RAS Presidium voted for the proposalask the State Duma to withdraw the bill and stop discussing it. Earlier, the RAS Commission on Science Popularization spoke out against the document. In the appeal of a group of Russian scientists, published in the newspaper "Troitsky Variant", the raising of the question of licensing and regulation of educational activities was called "offensive."

A petition on Change.org against the outreach amendments has now garnered over 140,000 signatures.

The collection of signatures was initiated by an astrophysicist, doctorPhysics and Mathematics, Leading Researcher of the Moscow State University, Sergei Popov. The petition was created two weeks ago. It says that the proposed amendments will jeopardize the popularization of science in Russia.

“Many educational projects based infirst of all, on the enthusiasm of their participants, they may end up in danger of disappearing due to the appearance of numerous bureaucratic requirements, the need for licensing, coordination of the content of each lecture, "the scientist emphasizes in his public address.

What's the bottom line?

In his interview for Hitek, Sergei Nazarovemphasizes - all major scientific projects (gravitational-wave telescopes, ring and linear colliders, optical and space telescopes, ITER, etc.), in which the most outstanding discoveries are made, are created with the participation of international experts and scientists. The world is moving towards unification and globalization. “The general trend in the world is the elimination of all borders and the consolidation of the world scientific community,” the scientist notes. The constraints for scientists, who often work on a single enthusiasm to bring science to the masses, do not fit into such trends.

Authors of almost any blog, Telegram channel orpublic lectures can be seen as people engaged in activities that need to be monitored. If the bill is passed, they will all have to get permission from the authorities to do this work, as well as to contacts with foreign scientists and organizations... Let us remind you that the authors of the document in an explanatory note say that one of its goals is to counter "anti-Russian propaganda."

“The main problem with the 'amendments' is that due to the extremely broad definition of the law literally anything will fit, any transfer of information outside of educational institutions... And the popularization of science in the country keepsin fact, on enthusiasts, on "free artists", on scientists with a creative streak and developed communication skills, - emphasizes Sergei Nazarov. - If their activities begin to restrict ... It's like making poets and artists agree in advance on the idea of ​​a painting with the government. This is as strange as forcing lovers to "hold on to their arms" in a strictly defined way prescribed by the government. And do this only after agreeing on your desire, registering it with the appropriate state body and obtaining a license for the ability to 'hold on to the handles'. "

“Therefore, the RAS and many famous scientists andpopularizers of science make statements about the need to repeal this bill. And I, as a scientist and popularizer, of course, support them, ”the astronomer concludes.

You can also influence the situation.We demand to withdraw the amendments to the law, to take into account the voice of the educational community and the millions of Russians who make up the audience for popular science lectures and festivals. Laws should help education, not hinder it!

You can sign the petition against the Education Law Amendment Package at Change.org.

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