An entire chapter of the Programme of Action adopted at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo, Egypt in 1994, is devoted to education, characterized as a "key factor in sustainable development", as well as "an indispensable tool for the improvement of the quality of life". The Programme of Action sets forth the following objectives: to achieve universal access to quality education, with particular priority being given to primary and technical education and job training, and combating illiteracy and eliminating gender disparities in access to, retention in and support for education; to promote non-formal education for young people, guaranteeing equal access for women and men to literacy centres; and to introduce and improve the content of the curriculum, so as to promote greater responsibility and awareness on the interrelationships between population and sustainable development, health issues, including reproductive health and gender equity.
The Russian Federation's education policy, reflecting the overall national interests in this sphere, takes fully into account the international education agenda attached to the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action, as well as world trends that call for profound changes in the system of education, e.g. transition to a post-industrial information society, emergence of global challenges that can only be solved by international cooperation requiring quite a new thinking from the younger generation, sustained economic growth, competition and reduction of unskilled and semiskilled labour and deep structural changes in the sphere of employment.
The Russian Government is implementing measures to ensure its citizens' right to education, guaranteed by the Constitution and protected by Federal laws. Basic principles of education policy are stated in the national doctrine for education through 2025, and the Plan of Action for the implementation of the 2002 Dakar Initiative--"Education for All"--has been endorsed. National policy is based on ensuring a quality of education that meets up-to-date requirements, while retaining its fundamental nature and compliance with the present and future needs of individuals, society and the State.
Full-scale political and socio-economic reforms of the late 1980s and early 1990s considerably affected the Russian system of education. They enabled the academic autonomy of colleges and universities, a variety of educational programmes and institutes, and the development of the non-governmental sector of education. The system-wide crisis of the 1990s, however, significantly slowed down positive changes. In order to give new impetus to the reform of education in Russia, the Government adopted the "Concept of Modernization of the Russian Education through 2010". The ultimate goal of the modernization process is the creation of a mechanism of sustainable development of the education system.
Education in Russia, being closely and inherently tied to science--both fundamental and applied--becomes a major driving force of economic growth, increasing its efficiency and competitiveness, which makes it one of the most important factors of national security and welfare, and for the well-being of every citizen. Full education potential has to be used for society's consolidation, preserving the united socio-cultural fabric of the country, warding off ethnic tension and social conflicts, bearing in mind the priority of human rights and the equality of national cultures and various confessions, and levelling out social disproportions.
It is imperative to ensure equal access of young people to high-quality education, in conformity with their interests and personal inclinations, irrespective of family income, residence, nationality and health. Furthermore, every effort is put forth for the social protection of children and teenagers deprived of parental care.