The International Forum “Civil G8-2006”. The Round table discussion on the problems of Civil Education, 9-10th of March. Short reporting.
The priority of the discussion was the role of civil and professional education in forming civil society. The education was considered as an instrument of society integration and of transferring civil values to the various social groups.
In the process of the discussion the main issues were determined as follows: inclusive education, integrative schools, educational standards, civic consciousness, accessibility, international experience, professional mobility.
If we really want to prevent the discrimination of invalid children or children physically or mentally retarded, it is necessary for them to study together, because it contributes to the tolerance among children equal in age, takes into account every child’s needs, - stressed the participants of the discussion.
According to the statistics of Russian Ministry of Education, there are 11 million invalids in Russia, 600 thousands of them are children. Besides, about 1,5-2 million children have special educational needs, including psycho-pedagogy, deaf-and-dumb pedagogy etc. By and large, the children health specifics need a respective specifics of education.
There is a legislative base for education, social defense of invalids, but we must admit, there are no mechanisms of teaching invalids at school. Some international agreements, particularly, the Convention of Children rights, are not being implemented in practice.
The inclusive education develops in children invalids the self-reliance, prepares them for full integration into the society and guaranteed placement. In this connection it is very important to use international cooperation and partnership to develop inclusive education in Russia. It is recommended to conduct an international conference of G8 education ministers on the problems of education for children having special educational needs as well as a series of Round table discussions with the participation of NGOs, school; and parents organizations. It is desirable to create G8 universities coalition of cadres training.
There many questions we need to answer: if there is really a need of national or integrative schools for children of different nationalities? Is it necessary to develop national schools or to create a multinational dialogue instead? There are different approaches to this problem solving – from religious education in Germany to antireligious education in France.
While trying to create a new generation of educational standards it is important to stress the significance of civil society, in particular, the significance of experts’ professional associations, because today all the standards are being created and developed under different conditions and have different intensity and quality. In this connection the experience of some states, especially, US, in the sphere of creating new standards is very interesting and important. (For example, the mathematics standard was worked out during 10 years by mathematicians together with employers).
The system of Russian civil education needs badly a complex state policy. Its main aim must be to educate democratic civic consciousness, socialization of a young citizen from the beginning of his/her life. It is necessary to teach and to live under the conditions of civic consciousness. Russian authorities have adopted a civil education program, but it is not yet fully implemented everywhere.
The development of civil education must include the following parameters:
The democratic values should be a guiding line of civil education. The education must include a civil education of a citizen. The education accessibility should be considered a basis of education’s “civilizing”. The universities can and must be real democracy schools.
We consider the role of the society in the educational process as the citizens’ participation in the development of education and in its management as well. In this connection we must take into account both national, and world tendencies. The sense of citizens’ participation in education management is that the educational system itself becomes the analogue of civil society.
It is necessary to raise the level of a partnership between the society and the state. To do this we need to unit their efforts, to bring together the measures undertaken within commercial and non-commercial sectors. There are many interesting examples in Russia, for example, in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, where there are special managing councils in 137 schools. A next step of the experiment would be a creation of joint state-social managing organs or organs of the citizens’ participation in education management. The trusteeship hasn’t become a state policy in Russia (like it is in Great Britain, for example), but the international cooperation and partnership could change this situation significantly.
The problem of professional education is mainly the economical problem. When Russian senior pupils and their parents are asked about education, most of them say that they want to enter Higher School. But when the national economy expresses its need in the specialists with higher education, then we face the fact of the so-called “Tkachenko pyramid”: there are 3 times more University graduate specialist and 5 times less specialist graduated from the professional technical colleges than the country needs. Business circles have to raise education competitiveness, because that’s what the country’s competitiveness depends on.
Working out of the professional standards is closely connected to the problem of the education accessibility. The cost of education in Russia has raised in 3 times within the last year, from 117 up to 376 billion rubles. Business involvement into education system development, in the forms already accepted in the G8 countries, can help to balance the ratio between paid and free of charge education. It is also of vital importance to create self-regulating organizations in the educational sphere, taking into account the international experience.
Meanwhile, professional mobility gets stronger everywhere. In the USA, where 2 million people graduate from colleges every year, there are 650 thousand foreign students. In Russia there are 100 thousand foreign students, but there is only 1 percent of young Russians studying abroad.
Some problems such as students’ self-management and involving the youth in local governance system, in the activities of civil society wasn’t reflected in the discussions. But the very majority of the experts, the participants managed to discuss all main issues worthy of G8 leaders’ attention.