R is for Russia

Education Around the World: Countries from A to Z

by Arandeep Degun (AIWC Cologne)

The largest country on earth, Russia is seeking to reassert itself as a world power after emerging from well over a decade of post-Soviet economic and political turmoil. Income from large natural resources, mainly oil and gas, have helped Russia overcome the economic collapse of 1998; however, the oil price slump of 2014 ended the long run of prosperity. The state-run gas monopoly still supplies a large portion of Europe’s needs. President Vladimir Putin, Russia's dominant political figure since 2000, has enhanced his control over state institutions and the media, a process supplemented more recently by nationalism.Screen Shot 2019 05 24 at 10.07.34 AM(map courtesy of Lonely Planet) 

It is clear that the educational system in Russia has been adversely affected by the loss of prosperity. Russian experts have stated, “Education today does not keep pace with the challenges of the time; it does not provide the Russian economy with the necessary personnel required for the development of a digital economy.” Experts from the Russian Presidential Academy of Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) have reported that secondary vocational education in Russia is at risk of collapsing. The report states that the current budget financing for education is barely enough for minimal development of schools and universities. As the rules governing state exams have become more rigorous since 2014, many schoolchildren prefer to enter vocational colleges after ninth grade rather than go on to universities, thus increasing the demand for secondary vocational education. Unfortunately, the budget allocated for its development is extremely limited. 

Ex-Minister of Finance Alexey Kudrin (Kudrin Center of Strategic Research), in collaboration with the Higher School of Economics, has presented a 12-step educational reform program aimed at the development of school infrastructure, vocational colleges and universities, the digitalization of education, teacher training, growth of investment in basic research and support of preschool education:        

  1. Create an early development support system in the country.
  2. Replace textbooks with digital education.
  3. Invest more money for educational infrastructure.
  4. Implement a program of equal educational opportunities.
  5. Update the technical education program.
  6. Develop and support talented students.
  7. Launch a system of continuing education.
  8. Strengthen support for regional universities.
  9. Fund basic research.
  10. Massively attract foreign students.
  11. Strengthen the introduction of 21st Century learning skills and “New Literacy” skills to schools.
  12. Retain teachers and their leaders.

Further details regarding the 12 steps can be found HERE. (note: easy translation from Russian to English).

The experts have warned that if there are no reforms to the education system now, Russia will suffer from a deep and scientific gap in relation to the developed world. Today, Russia is ranked almost at the bottom in terms of education expenditure as a percentage of GDP (3.6%), and has been on the decline. It can be concluded that Russia’s education system has a challenging future ahead, which should begin with allocating more funds to the education sector. If feasible, the 12-step approach sounds promising.

* This article has been adapted from 12 Steps for Healing the Education System.


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