Lack of access to education: Tens of thousands of children without permanent registration unable to enter kindergartens
The Civil Assistance Committee has stated that “temporary rules” introduced by Moscow City’s Department of Education whose effect is to deny access of tens of thousands of children to pre-school education, are legally flawed as well as being completely out of date.
Children registered at their place of stay cannot be admitted to pre-school institutions according to “temporary rules” introduced in 2013. These stipulate that applications for kindergarten places can only be made by parents whose children are registered in Moscow. The rules set out the advantages for children of Moscow residents and benefit holders. Children who are registered at their place of stay in the capital find themselves at the back of the queue for a kindergarten place.
Being admitted to a pre-school institution is only possible “if there are places in educational establishments allocated at the child’s place of registration”. The Civil Assistance Committee believes that the practice of registering children in kindergartens is illegal and is at odds with the Russian Constitution and laws that guarantee the individual’s general rights to pre-school education without discriminating on the basis of availability or otherwise of a particular type of registration.
Human rights activists say that these “temporary rules” have not yet successfully passed the Ministry of Justice’s legal and anti-corruption tests. Responding to the Ministry’s instruction to provide regulations in the prescribed manner, the Department of Education stated that they didn’t have the “status of a regulatory or legal act”. The Ministry subsequently appealed to the Prosecutor’s Office asking for procuratorial action “to provide “temporary rules”’. The Prosecutor’s Office then made representations to Moscow’s Deputy Mayor, Anastasia Rakova, asking for the “temporary rules” to be subject to legal and anti-corruption assessments.
Human rights activists say that, judging by the Justice Ministry’s response, it seems that the Prosecutor’s request hasn’t been properly addressed. The Civil Assistance Committee says that the rules have not been updated since 2014 and include outdated and inadequate information. They are also impossible to find on the Department of Education’s website in their legal documents section or on legal databases.
“In other words, since the “legal rules” cannot even be classed as a formal legal document they are clearly illegal. Perhaps Department of Education officials were simply ignorant of all this? But then once the Ministry had warned the Department of Education to toe the line, the “temporary rules” should have ceased to be applied. But nothing of the sort happened. In the meantime, the Department continues to be a law unto itself and obliges pre-school education institutions to act in accordance with these “temporary rules”, say human rights activists.
In 2015, activists tried to challenge an order of the Federation’s Ministry of Education and Science on the admission rules to a school which, in their opinion, violated the rights of migrant children to education. Russia’s Supreme Court considered the requirement to provide information on the registration of children at their place of residence and residence for school enrolment contained in the order to be optional and rejected the Civil Assistance Committee’s complaint.
In 2018, Moscow schools are not accepting children without registration and some heads are refusing registered migrant children, said Konstantin Troitsky, Coordinator of the Assistance Committee’s “Access to Education” Programme. The expert explained that while registered migrant children with a school education have a good chance of getting a job, the situation in kindergartens is such that children are actually being deprived of their right to pre-school education as they are usually recorded on endless waiting lists year on year.
“We cannot say with confidence how many children with temporary and migrant registration are being accepted but we believe this to be a small percentage of the total number. Nevertheless, all these children have every right to pre-school education, as do those without Moscow registration who are not even recorded in the never-ending waiting lists for the capital’s kindergartens”, the expert said.
Information on the number of children who have not been admitted to kindergartens as a result of these “temporary rules” is only available to the Department of Education but it is clear that it is around the tens of thousands, says Troitsky. “The Prosecutor’s Office was supposed to make representations to the Department of Education to overturn these breaches in the right to education. If this is not a regulatory or legal act then why does it normalise admission procedures for children to kindergartens? For some reason, they’re not doing it”, says the expert.
With the help of human rights activists defending those who faced a breach of their rights to have their children in kindergartens, a lawsuit was filed with the Moscow City Court against the Department of Education demanding that the “temporary rules” be declared invalid.