RUSSIA: The State of Education at the Turn of the Century

By Eaton, Jana Sackman | Social Education, March 2001 | Go to article overview

RUSSIA: The State of Education at the Turn of the Century


Eaton, Jana Sackman, Social Education


Neatly-attired, studious youngsters; dedicated and energetic, yet impoverished, teachers; shoddily constructed schools; scantily provisioned classrooms; and low-budget texts. These are some of my most vivid images of schools in a region deep in the heart of Russia when I traveled there in fall 1999. I was to work with English language teachers on developing an American studies curriculum and effective methods for teaching it. My experience with educators in the Volga River area, located approximately 900 miles southeast of Moscow, was deeply moving, immensely informative, yet also disturbing, as the contrasting images above suggest.

Earlier that year, seventy-six award-winnning teachers from five Newly Independent States had come to the United States for seven weeks of professional development. They met with their U.S. counterparts at a five-day conference on Excellence in Teaching Across Cultures held at the University of Delaware in July. On returning home, the NIS teachers asked their school districts to host an American teacher during the fall. I was paired with two women with whom I had become friends--Irina Dolzhenko of Dimitrovgrad and Tatiana Ponomarenko of Togliatti--their towns being within easy distance of each other on the Volga. Because they agreed to "share" me, I had the special opportunity to get to know two schools and communities on my visit to Russia.

I had previously done research on Russian education in Moscow and St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) during the period of glasnost in 1988. Still, I was unprepared for the magnitude of the crisis confronting Russian education today. Since the early 1990s, the Russian educational system has been swept into the chaotic maelstrom wrought by the dismantling of the Soviet Union and the decentralization and privatization of the economy. The new educational goals of increasing local and regional control of schools, as well as correcting the distortions of the old ideology-driven curriculum, pose major challenges for the nation.

The School System in Russia

The educational system in the Soviet Union served both domestic and Cold War interests. The emphasis was on science and mathematics, with specialization beginning in the early grades for the most promising students. Girls received the same educational opportunities as boys, and achievements in math and science were notable. Yet, the system was plagued by problems, including inefficiencies and lack of incentives to vary teaching methods and incorporate critical thinking.

Administration and curriculum development were concentrated in the Ministry of Education in Moscow, which was responsible for determining the curriculum, funding, teaching materials, and equipment provided to schools. There was little opportunity either to transfer resources to meet local priorities or to adjust the uniform, mandated curriculum to meet local or individual needs.

This is changing. Although an umbrella group, the Ministry of General and Professional Education (MGPE), maintains control over the national curriculum, much of the responsibility for schools has passed to regional and district authorities at the regional (oblast), county, city, and district levels. However, this is resulting in tremendous discrepancies in per pupil spending, due to the unequal distribution of capital resources from region to region.(1)

The School Structure

Russian education consists of nine years of compulsory education (from age seven to fifteen). Primary ("beginning") school includes grades one through four, and middle school includes grades five through nine. At the secondary, level, senior ("oldest") school consists of grades ten and eleven, with many schools planning to add a twelfth grade (a priority of the Ministry). Students who pursue an academic education beyond grade nine may attend a "college," comparable to the standard academic secondary school, or a more select "profile" or "specialty" secondary school. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

RUSSIA: The State of Education at the Turn of the Century
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.