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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

School Year Starts on Patriotic Note

The school year kicks off Monday with a lecture on the country's national symbols.

All secondary students will attend a class on the history of the flag and anthem, Education Minister Vladimir Filippov said.

The first day of school is usually Sept. 1, and many schools held symbolic ceremonies Sunday but waited until Monday to start classes.

Health officials report that the health of the nation's 20 million children is declining at an alarming rate.

Up to 70 percent of children starting first grade suffer from a chronic illness, and only 10 percent are registered as healthy when they graduate, according to Health Ministry statistics.

And the price of going to school is going up. Textbook prices increased 20 percent to 30 percent this year -- so that a set of books costs some 600 rubles ($19) for the lower grades and 900 rubles for higher grades, said Alexander Kondakov, head of the Prosveshcheniye publisher, which specializes in printing textbooks.