Education in Contemporary Russia: An Overview of National Policies and Rural Education

Article excerpt

One of President Eisenhower's cabinet members once suggested that, "As GM goes, so goes America." Well in Russia, the belief is, "As education goes, so goes mother Russia." This position might be questioned by some, but if Russia is to develop into a free democratic state then it must have a comprehensive means by which to transmit essential information to its citizens so that they might develop their various potentials, be they intellectual, moral, social, or otherwise. Here enters the realm of education.

Of course, the more immediate goals in Russia today seem to center around stopping the economic decline and establishing some degree of social stability, but also deemed to be a strong priority, even now amid great economic turmoil, is the need to educate each individual so that s/he can cope in today's world, and be prepared to enter the 21st century. Educating people to be free, highly intellectual, and spiritually rich can only be obtained through the constant improvement of Russia's whole educational system, with the idea that as the system improves, so will its citizens.

In order to achieve these ends, which are all in accordance with the "World Declaration on Human Rights," the following steps will be taken:

1. Develop a new philosophy of education. One that is able to revive the rich philosophical and religious heritages of Russia, while at the same time take into consideration the wealth of knowledge that only sound scientific achievements can provide.

2. Changes in the "values orientation" of general and professional education. In so doing, the aim of education will be upon satisfying the various educational needs of everyone; across stages of the lifespan, vocational careers, and/or personal pursuits.

3. While adapting to individuals' needs, the new educational model currently being implemented in Russia will also seek to develop federal, regional, and municipal general education programs that will be like mortar, since they will bond all the regions of Russia into one federative sovereign state.

4. Emphasis will be placed upon providing everyone with "Quality" educational experiences that encourage creativity, innovations and continual improvement.

5. Instead of relying exclusively upon the teachers of mother Russia, international assistance will also be sought, particularly with other countries that have a record of success in achieving in high-priority-areas of education.

6. Since Russia is so ethnically and religiously mixed, educational reform will be introduced that fosters the adoption of the "Full Inclusion" model of education.

These points should convey to the reader where Russian education is headed, and that Russia's teachers, like the Minister of Education for the Russian Federation, are fully committed to implementing these changes to the very best of their abilities. For teaching is only a medium, but education is the heart and soul of the message, and the hope is, is that everyone will get the "message."

Part II: The "Big Picture" About Small Schools in rural Russia

In many ways, Russia and America are quite similar. They are both expansive, extending across several time zones. Their resources are great, while their population density is below the world average. Thus, both have large rural areas, and the school is often more than the place where students are taught. In addition, in both countries schools are often perceived as a major source of stabilization for the village's/community's existence. Notably, in both Russia and the U.S., there have been many rural school closings in recent years. In fact, during the last decade literally thousands of rural schools have been closed in both of these great countries. Of course, in neither country are these school closings received very well by the citizens in the local communities, but in Russia great despair is often the result. …