The current development of our society is defined by increasing migration. A number of traits characterize migration flows in Russia; those immigrating to Russia are predominantly work-orientated coming from middle Asia (Former Soviet Republics). Adult immigrants usually have a good command of Russian; their children however do not speak the language and often have serious difficulties with learning it. Most migrants coming to Russia from the former Soviet Republics are Muslim. Recent statistics shows that 72% of all the immigrant children who are currently attending educational institutions in Tatarstan are Muslim. Migrants are required to be registered at the place of residence and their residence in Russia is regulated by the governmental bodies. This, however, does not prevent certain problems from arising. Increasing migration flows from underdeveloped places lead to the rise in number of children who are in need of adaptation, it also leads to growing social and educational inequalities while work-related misunderstandings as well as misunderstandings based on ethnic and religious grounds between migrants and indigenous population are becoming more common and sometimes result in serious conflicts.
It has to be acknowledged that the issue of immigrants’ adaptation is relatively well developed by scholars worldwide but at the same time the importance of practices empirically established over long periods of time in the regions where people of different religions and ethnicities historically coexisted peacefully can hardly be overestimated. Russia in general and Tatarstan in particular have amassed invaluable experience of successfully integrating Muslim immigrants in wider society. Tatarstan is now one of the most developed and continually evolving (in an economic, cultural, industrial and academic way) regions of Russia. Along with that it has to be noted that Tatarstan is a multinational and multiethnic territory of different traditions, religions and views. For a long time Tatarstan has been setting an example of interethnic peace and religious harmony while allowing everyone to maintain their national uniqueness. According the 2010 nation-wide census in Russia people of more than 173 nationalities live in Tatarstan (8 nationalities of which are over 10 000 people: Tatars, Russians, Udmurts, Mordovians, Chuvash people and Mari people, Ukrainians and Bashkirians). Russians (historically Eastern orthodox Christian) and Tatars (historically Muslim) are two of the largest groups in the region.
Tatarstan has significant experience in multicultural education. Established in Kazan scholarship and academic traditions in the fields of Eastern (Oriental) studies, religious studies, psychology, pedagogy, sociology and a number of other humanitarian fields allow Tatarstan scholars to approach the issue of Muslim immigrant children’s adaptation that has great social importance in a complex interdisciplinary way while also sharing this experience all across Russia and with other countries.
In view of this all Kazan Federal University is currently introducing “Teacher of the 21st century” – the Strategic Academic Unit (SAU) which is aimed at making education more multicultural in regards to the current trends in migrating processes.
The main goal of the project is to create the system of professional multicultural teacher training in a classical (non-pedagogical) university.
The aforementioned project requires working in two main interlinked directions: education and academic research.