Putin Pushes Education, a G8 Priority
President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Russia should bring its education system closer to international standards and attract more students from other former Soviet republics.
Putin, speaking at a session of the advisory State Council, said educational similarities foster better understanding among people and countries, and therefore international stability.
Education is one of three priority areas for the Group of Eight industrial nations under Russia's chairmanship this year. Putin said earlier this month that boosting education worldwide was key to combating extremism.
"A drastic modernization of the sector hasn't taken place" despite increases in government funding during the past five years, Putin told the governors and Cabinet members who comprise the State Council, Interfax reported.
Putin ordered the Education and Science Ministry to create several model education centers across the country by plowing funds into developing programs at the best institutions of higher learning. The federal government will spend 5 billion rubles ($180 million) this year and 15 billion rubles next year to support them, Putin said.
Universities should welcome more foreign students and teachers, especially from the former Soviet republics, and open campuses abroad, Putin said. "Training the work forces of other countries paves the way for new markets for us," he said, Interfax reported.
Sergei Katanandov, head of the Karelia republic and chairman of the State Council's working group on education, said an emphasis should be placed on opening campuses in the former Soviet republics.
Putin also said vocational schools should follow the demands of the market. He said the federal government should pass responsibility for vocational curriculums to regional administrations, which better understand local needs.
Mayor Yury Luzhkov, however, said the country's system of vocational schools had collapsed, and urged the government to rebuild it. A lack of vocational schools in Moscow has caused a shortage of workers in electronics, machine building and other industries, he said.