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Russian researchers study how Arctic indigenous children adapt to urban life

May 05, 13:50 UTC+3 YEKATERINBURG

For nearly 100 years, boarding schools for indigenous children have existed in Russia's far north

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© AP Photo/Petr Shelomovskiy

YEKATERINBURG, May 5. /TASS/. Researchers from the Tyumen Science Center of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences have been studying the adaptation of Arctic indigenous children to urban life, the center’s press service said in a statement. The first part of the research was conducted in the Yamalo-Nenets Region in Russia’s Urals.

"For nearly 100 years, boarding schools for indigenous children have existed in the far northern regions of our country," the statement reads. "At first, only children, whose parents roamed from one place to another the whole year, lived and studied there, but lately, the number of kids who only attend classes and live at home with their parents has been growing. Researchers conducted a poll among 25 teenagers from the Kharampur village, including 14 kids who live in a boarding school and 11 youngsters of the same age who live with their families," the statement adds.

The poll showed that kids who live in a boarding school adapt faster to urban lifestyle. "Boarding schools are comfortable which helps the process of adaptation, as kids become more independent, self-motivated and ambitious. At the same time, those who live at home grow more dependent on others, they are only interested in their close circle of relations and rely on it for help," the press service explained saying that labor training was necessary to help kids raised in boarding schools lead a successful adult life.

"Although indigenous peoples have seen their levels of education and living standards increase, this has made them lose their skills to adjust to life’s hardships, which points to the deterioration in the ethnic Northerners’ health, since there is a strong link between their lifestyle and their health," head of the Bioresources of Cryosphere Department at the Tyumen Science Center, Professor Sergei Petrov said.

As many as 42,000 people coming from various indigenous minorities reside in the Yamalo-Nenets Region, around 17,000 of them lead a traditional nomadic life. More than 3,600 kids, who live in the tundra with their parents, spend nine months every year at one of the 24 local boarding schools.

Children of the Arctic

The "Children of the Arctic" project, the first aimed at the indigenous children of the Arctic zone, involves five Russian regions, Norway and Finland. The project started from Russia’s Yamalo-Nenets Region. Researches who work there are meant to share their experience in framing education for nomadic children with other scientists involved in the project.

The "Nomadic School" project in the Yamalo-Nenets Region was launched six years ago. At present, 22 education facilities, including 17 kindergartens and five schools, provide education to more than 200 kids. To make the educational process easier, teachers either live with the reindeer breeders in their traditional Tipi-like dwellings and follow them wherever they go, or come to the camp several times a week to give classes.

In the past, children of indigenous herders and fishermen left their families at the age of seven, as every year they had to spend nine months at boarding schools.

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