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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

So Much for the Vaunted Russian Education System!

Moscow Times columnist Georgy Bovt lays bare the tragic state of the Russian education system at every level in the following brilliant and breathtaking column. Remember, it's never to the advantage of a dictator like Putin to have a well-educated, independent, free-thinking population. The other kind is much easier to control. And if the economy suffers as a result and people are poor? Empty bellies are also much easier to control!

C Students and Dilettantes

A salesperson in a computer store couldn't help me configure my new cell phone. Since this isn't my forte and I was too lazy to figure it out myself, I left the phone with the store whizzes. When I came back in three hours I found them clustered in a group in the center of the sales room, ignoring the other customers and discussing how to set GPRS on that phone model. They didn't know how to do it. No one had trained them to deal with the electronics they were selling.

The nice young woman in the travel agency where I bought airline tickets didn't tell me that the sign for the credit card on the door meant that they would take the card -- and an additional 2 percent of the ticket cost. Nor did she mention the day before when I was in the office that someone had to go out for my tickets and I'd have to wait a half hour. And of course she didn't think to write down the time of arrival and departure terminal number. To my astonished exclamation, "But it's done as a matter of course!" she replied that she did it only if the traveler requested. It took no more than 30 seconds. Why not do it right away?

Even in Moscow's most expensive boutiques the salesperson will not always come up to you with the standard question, "How can I help you?" Here the saleswomen may look like top models, but they'll chat with each other and not pay any attention to the customers

In appliance stores the salespeople can't explain the advantages and drawbacks of various models and brands. Barmen in Sheremetyevo International Airport often can't speak a word of English -- and the same for the staff in almost all Moscow's hotels and restaurants. This list could be continued endlessly.

All these people have one thing in common: They're dilettantes.

This dilettantism is a disaster for the Russian economy. Top and middle-level managers tell you this as soon as you raise the subject. Every editor-in-chief screams about how poorly qualified most new employees are. Although they can't even write correctly in Russian (not to mention all the other necessary skills and knowledge), they start salary negotiations with figures that may be realistic in Europe or the United States, but not here. They get hired, because there's no one else, and the mass media are growing by leaps and bounds.

The retail sector, which is growing as rapidly, is also reeling from unqualified employees. Some stores try to train their staff, but it's virtually useless, since the staff knows they can get another job if their present one doesn't suit. It's the same story in the restaurant business and in the service sphere in general.

At this point someone will say: But the provinces are full of people eager to come to the city to earn money. That's utter nonsense! They won't come! They're living in squalor and don't want to do anything, even for money. A major automotive company wanted to build an assembly plant in the Pskov region. The managers went to the area and were horrified: There simply wasn't anyone to work at the factory. Most of the men were drunks. This is typical for many Russian regions.

Company directors complain that there are no qualified bookkeepers, lawyers or personnel directors. Fairy tales about "computer geniuses" who could fill two cities of Bangalore are just that -- fairy tales. These people may be talented, but they are self-taught and usually never had a systematic professional education. The country's education system fell apart -- in every sphere.

Have you ever heard of training for cashiers, salespeople, electricians, travel agents, train conductors, secretaries, plumbers or other low-level white- and blue-collar workers? Typically there's no competition for them; friends of friends or relatives without special training get hired.This dilettantism and disregard for standards of service has become the norm in the Russian economy. If you think this is only happening at the low end of the business ladder, you're wrong; it's the exact same thing at the top. Professional training and experience is nothing compared to being from St. Petersburg or political loyalty.

As a result, decisions are ill-considered and sometimes unwise; half-baked laws that don't anticipate the consequences are drafted; and ill-conceived systems are implemented on a nationwide scale.

Sometimes it seems that the country is being run at every level by C students.

Georgy Bovt is the editor of Profil . . . and a genuine Russian patriot!


Anonymous said...

Quick little question for La Readerophobe:

Do you think the fact that I seem to be the only person ever to have commented on your blog suggests that I'm the only person ever to have read it?

Follow up:

Must take a lot of time to put together. Doesn't it get demoralising when you realise no-one cares?

La Russophobe said...

Dear Moron:

(1) If you check the posts on Myskina and the French Open, you will see numerous posts there other than yours.

(2) This blog is only four weeks old and deals with an obscure topic, Russia. Can you give me an example of a similar blog that received more comments in its first four weeks?

(3) Do YOU have a blog? If so, how many comments did YOu get in the first four weeks? If not, you are a total waste of space, talking about something you have no knowledge of.

(4) Google La Russophobe, you hopless dolt. You'll see that the Russian blogosphere is full of talk about me and my blog.

Doesn't it get demoralizing to ALWAYS be wrong, and ALWAYS sitting on the sidelines doing nothing while others achieve?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I do have a blog. One with many, many more readers than yours.

And no, I won't be telling you what it is. See, I've seen how you pollute other blogs with your petty self-promotion. You had a decent idea. Then you spoiled it by being childish and annoying.

"Google La Russophobe".... Congratulations. Google has heard of your rather unique name.

My first questions related to facts. No one seems really to read your blog. Comments are a measure of that. I just had a quick scan: you've had comments on about five out of about 26 posts.

That's laughably bad.

You clearly have patience though. What's the longest time you've spent flogging a dead horse in the past?

Again: good idea. Just badly executed by the wrong person.

Anonymous said...

BTW, I'm doing you a favour.

People will inadvertently come here after reading some silly comment of yours on a far better blog (the way I got here).

Then they'll see more silliness.

Then they'll notice a few comments (mine and yours now make up about half the number you've ever had) and think: "Well, at least someone likes it. Weird."

That'll be funny, eh?

Anonymous said...

Oh dear (he says by way of adding to the favour described above).

I followed your advice and googled La Russophobe...

You have one and a half pages of references!

One and a half.

Your poor, deluded soul. Are you really so lonely?

I would find something more profitable to do with your time. Meet people. Go to a park. See a film. Have a meal with someone.

There must be someone out there for you!

La Russophobe said...

Hmmm let's see... first you say I have NO comments and was being COMPLETELY IGNORED.

Now suddenly you change your lying tune and I have comments on 20% of my posts, but that's not good enough to satisfy you.

Oh, please tell me, Master of Bloggery (who has no blog and not even an original NAME), what number of comments should I be striving for?

Gosh you're a mess. And a LYING mess to boot, unable to apologize for your gross error in saying my blog was ignored. Google it and find MANY blogs are discussing it very actively and I have many comments after only FOUR WEEKS. But you won't apologize because that's just the nature of the scum you are.

PS: If you read the title of this blog, you will see it is HISTORY blog. That means it RECORDS facts, it's goal is not to record the opinions of readers, especially not uneducated, hypocritical lying morons like you.

I asked you a question: Where's YOUR blog? Did YOU have comments on more than 20% of your posts after four weeks? Did YOU have more Google hits than me?

Must be depressing to be incapable of DOING anything, only carping.

Come to think of it, you're JUST LIKE RUSSIA, aren't you?

La Russophobe said...

You're jealousy is really showing now dear. XYZPDQ!

La Russophobe said...

You know, "anonymous," I just thought I might point out that this post you are commenting on was NOT WRITTEN BY ME it was written by the EDITOR OF PROFIL magazine. The vast majority of posts on this blog were written by SOMEBODY ELSE, and they were all PROFESSIONAL WRITERS.

I thought you might need a bit of help to figure that out since you're clearly a bit dim and blinded by childish jealousy.

So if you want to attack this post, you should write to Mr. Bovt. As for me, I think his column is brilliant and history will show this. That's why it's here.

I might also say that Brezhnev used all the same language you are using about me when he talked about Solzhenitsin, just before he kicked him out of the country. Turned out Brezhenv, like you, was wrong.

Anonymous said...

Your rambling really knows no bounds. But it is quite amusing. You're an angry young thing, aren't you. Poor lass. There must be counsellors nearby? They're not expensive.

I didn't attack Bovt's article. What I did, essentially, was ask if you enjoyed keeping a blog that no-one seems to care about, except you.

Doesn't it get you down a bit?

Comments on 20% of your posts? Wow! Congrats! You're in the big time. Lol.

You have two pages of entries on google. Two. A big, fat two (2). If that isn't feeble enough, those entries are only really there because you've been rapidly trying to attract attention to yourself on other people's more interesting blogs.

See the thing is, lots of other blogs carry much of the same material as yours. That might be why yours is so ignored (though you rather hilariously keep trying to persuade yourself otherwise).

As a matter of taste, btw, the stuff that you quote tends to be decent enough. But, then, for those of us who read the NYT, the Moscow Times, etc, etc, we don't really need you to rehash it all for us.

Which leaves us with the stuff you write yourself.

And therein, my dear, lies the problem.

It's boring; and when it's not boring, it's garbage.

Keep blogging! The world is watching.

La Russophobe said...

My blog is wildly successful, beyond what I possibly could have imagined. It has a much higher level of interest than any other similar bog has achieved. I'm delighted with it.

You don't give one single example of a more successful blog.

That's because you are a witless drone.

Have YOU got two pages of Google devoted to you, you gelatinous, subcutaneous little microbe?

Anonymous said...

I guess the advantage of having your own blog is that you can't get thrown off it for unseemly and abusive conduct. Though if anybody could manage it, you could.

Anonymous said...

"My blog is wildly successful, beyond what I possibly could have imagined. It has a much higher level of interest than any other similar bog has achieved. I'm delighted with it."

Keep telling yourself that, darling.

Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

La Russophobe said...

You mean just like Solzhenitsin got thrown out of Russia?

I wish that had happened to me. Unfortunately it hasn't yet, although I did get thrown out of a forum.

Changing the subject yet AGAIN when you're proved wrong? That's the sign of a very small mind indeed.

La Russophobe said...

You're the one protesting so much.

You speak without facts to back you up. No reference to any blog simlar to mine which is more successful.

In other words, you talk just like a Russian.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid that was a different "anonymous".

But obviously someone who finds your trivial comments just as irritating as I do.

Do you have any friends? Anywhere?

Are you also an an agoraphobe by any chance?

La Russophobe said...

Well, if you're comments are the model of "friendship" then no I'm proud to say I haven't got a single friend.

And if your inability to produce so much as a name for youself, much less a blog to compare mine to, is an indication of the substance you bring to my table, your advice is not worth the cyber air it's printed on.

La Russophobe said...

BTW, excuse me for mixing up my anonymouses, I don't know HOW I could have been so silly. But that's why the civilized world invented NAMES. Until then, you're all the same to me.

Anonymous said...

To La Russophobe:

dude, you are doing the right thing. The place is rotten. I left there 16 years ago and am so happy I did! The whole story about the russian incompetence is totally true.
Good luck with the project.