Number of People Turning to Civic Assistance Committee Due to Non-admission in Schools Has Seen Increase in 2017

More and more foreign and Russian citizens are turning to the Civic Assistance Committee as a result of schools in Moscow and the Moscow region refusing to admit their children.

In 2017, citizens of 11 countries came to us, all the children of whom were being deprived of their right to an education. The most common reason for this was a lack of official registration of their place of residence. It was also quite often the case that headteachers would turn children away due to the length of validity of their registration or because the administrative body of the school doubted the right of the citizen to be in Russia.

The Civic Assistance Committee has repeatedly written about the illegality of refusing to admit children on such grounds, reiterating that demanding proof of registration is inappropriate and that the schools’ administration and educational departments can not and should not question the legality of any citizen’s presence in Russia. More has been written about the problems relating to school admissions in Russia in the report ”Universal rights are not for everyone”,  published by the Committee in May 2017. But despite numerous laws, international conventions and the respective decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, children without registration are consistently being deprived of their right to an education, and in Moscow children are being systematically refused from enrollment by the Public Services Portal of the Russian Federation.

In 2017, 42 families with a total of 61 children (not including the dozens of Syrian refugees residing in Noginsk and Losino-Petrovsky) came to the Civic Assistance Committee regarding this infringement of their rights. Of these, 5 children were already enrolled in schools which had demanded to see their registration in order for them to continue their studies. The parents of the other 56 children were dealing with schools’ refusal to admit their children at all. The number of children who were being deprived of an education and the number of parents turning to the Civic Assistance Committee as a result consequently reached the highest it has been since we began collecting data in 2014.

Graph 1: The number of visits to the Civic Assistance Committee relating to a denial of the right to an education (not including those in Noginsk or Losino-Petrovsky). The blue line indicates the number of children. The red line indicates the number of families.

Over the last four years the parents of almost two hundred children, all of whom have been denied the right to an education, have come to the Civic Assistance Committee. Almost half of them are from Afghanistan. This can be explained by the fact that the Committee’s work with refugees from this country goes back a long way. The relatively low number of those coming to us from Central Asia is not due to an absence of problems in their community, but is rather because of a lack of awareness among this group of the work being done by the Civic Assistance Committee. This, among other reasons, means that the given data cannot claim to accurately reflect the whole picture. But the numbers do show that there is a problem, and that these groups of foreign citizens and their children are frequently being denied their right to an education.  

Country of Origin 2014 2015 2016 2017 Total
Afghanistan

19

18 21 23

81

Belarus

1 2 3

6

Georgia

1

2

3

Egypt

2

2

Yemen

1

1

Cameroon

1 1

2

Congo

1

1

2

Kazakhstan

1

1

Kyrgyzstan

1 1 1

3

Moldova

1

3

4

Pakistan

1

1

Russia

4 7

11

Syria

3

5 3 3

14

Tajikistan

2

6 4 9

21

Uzbekistan

4

8 2 5

19

Ukraine

6

9 5 5

25

Total number of children

37

54 44 61

196

Total number of families

22

37 32 42

82

Table 1: The number of children of various nationalities, about whom the Civic Assistance Committee was contacted due to an infringement of their right to an education (not including those from Noginsk or Losino-Petrovsky)

Due to the location of the Civic Assistance Committee’s office, the majority of those who visited us came either from Moscow or from the Moscow region. A clear increase in the number of visitors coming from the Moscow region can be seen in 2016 and 2017, and this is not even counting those from Noginsk and Losino-Petrovsky. Indeed, we hear more and more frequently about refugees who are unregistered and/or in the process of verifying their status, who are facing problems with enrolling their children in schools in the Moscow region.

The region of residence of the
child at the moment of complaint
2014 2015 2016 2017 Total
Moscow

24

48 31 42 145
Moscow region

13

0 13 17

43

Another region of Russia

6 2

8

Table 2: The number of children who were denied a right to an education and whose parents turned to the Civic Assistance Committee by region (not including those from Noginsk and Losino-Petrovsky)

As shown in Table 3, as far as we know it was in only 126 cases, out of the 196 children whose parents came to the Civic Assistance Committee, that the problem of denied access to school was resolved in Russia. In 20 cases the problem of access to school has remained unsolved, and in several instaces the claimants were forced to send their child to study in another country. In the majority of cases, the category «Claimant ceased making contact» also suggests that they left Russia for another country, but we cannot be certain of this. The departure of refugees from Russia was particularly notable in 2015, when a number of them were able to move to Europe by crossing the Russian-Norwegian border.

Result by 31st December 2017 2014 2015 2016 2017 Total
Claimant ceased making contact
(potential move away from Russia)

19

13 5 1

38

The problem is currently resolved

18

33 31 44

126

The children were sent to study abroad or
the family moved to another country

7 3 2

12

The problem is ongoing

1 5 14

20

Total number of children

37

54 44 61

196

Table 3: The situation on 31st December of the problems relating to the right to education (not including those from Noginsk or Losino-Petrovsky)

Of the 196 children whose parents came to the Civic Assistance Committee, a majority of 173 children were being directly refused access to school as a result of a lack of registration or an unregulated migration status. A further 23 children were facing threat of exclusion by the schools’ administrative bodies due to the expiration date of the registration.

Out of the resolved cases, a majority of 83 instances (60+23), were settled following written correspondance from the Civic Assistance Committee to the schools, discussions with headteachers and the chairmen of educational boards, and, in several cases, after judicial processes. After consultation, a number of claimants sought a way to officially register at their place of residence. Several families decided to send their children away from Moscow or moved with them to another region of Russia, and others were put on a fee-paying system.

How the problem was resolved
(the number of children)
2014 2015 2016 2017 Total
The children were enrolled in school after
help from the Civic Assistance Committee

1

11 19 29

60

After consultation the claimant was able to solve
the problem with registration

8

9 4 9

30

The children received access to a school
but in a different region

1

6 1

8

There were threats of exclusion, but after help from
the Civic Assistance Committee the threats
went away and the children remained in school

7

5 7 4

23

The children were able to study on a fee paying basis

1

1

2

Other 1 1 1

3

Total

18

33 31 44

126

Table 4: How the problem of the children’s admission to school was resolved, as of 31st December 2017 (not including those from Noginsk or Losino-Petrovsky)

In summary, it is clear that the problems relating to school admission remain serious. For parents who do not have evidence of registration it can be very difficult, and sometimes impossible, to get their children into school without the assistance of a qualified professional. The decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation on 27th August 2015, which established that parents’ or childrens’ lack of registration «can not constitute a basis for refusing to accept a child in an educational institution with available places» also remains a problem, with many headteachers and officials from educational services still continuing to simply ignore this statement. Not counting the children of Syrian refugees in Noginsk, the question of school enrollment of over 20 children remains unsolved at the start of 2018. Out of these, four children and their parents are waiting to move to another country, despite being desperate to remain in Russia. With the help of our lawyers, the cases of another five children who have been refused enrollment in school have been filed in court. Several families of working migrants are looking for a way to send their children back to their country of origin.