Civil Society as a resource of Education
The civil society can serve as an important instrument able to help the system of Education in Russia to develop and to be restored according contemporary standards.
This research shows the whole picture of the system of education in the Russian Federation – tendencies in the education system after the beginning of the administrative reform, the today’s state of general, high, special education, the implementation of the state youth policy.
The analysis of the today’s state of the education system in Russia shows the wide involvement of the civil society institutions can improve the education in the country. The research authors being respected experts in the education sphere demonstrate their coherent position in the question How the civil society institutions and NGOs can participate in changing the whole education system in the country and what important role on all levels they can play They also draw attention to the efforts of the state to create the possibility for civil society structures to take a real participation in the process of education and training of the citizens.
TODAY’S STATE OF THE EDUCATION SYSTEM IN RUSSIA AND THE POSSIBILITY OF CIVIL SOCIETY TO CHANGE IT
CIVIL SOCIETY AND THE EDUCATION
The materials prepared by the Ministry of science and education for the Government session of December, 9, 2004, dedicated to the discussion of the priorities in the development of Russian education system specified that all over the world the education becomes one of most important factors of the economic development, social stability, the growth of civil society institutions.
Russia has already declared its readiness to participate in the creation of four All-European spaces one of which is the European space for high education and scientific research. Within the framework of this space it is supposed that the states will be more responsible to create the conditions for the education development, to provide its high quality and accessibility. In the very majority of the states in the modern world such an important part of the social and economic life as the education is considered as most important sphere of the state’s responsibility.
Of course, we speak not about the administrative regulation but about the adequate state priorities and providing resources to develop the education sphere and to create the necessary conditions for involvement of private investments and civil initiatives.
The development of the civil society can’t be done automatically. The education and training gives not only knowledge and skills how to live, but it gives much more – the will and possibility to develop the system of the people interaction within the society.
The forms and structure of the civil society in Russia don’t respond the modern demands. The education system in a country should engrain the taste to create the civil society and to provide necessary knowledge and skills. To manage it in the country we need many serious complex changes.
Such reconstruction is impossible without an effective feedback, because only the society itself is able to formulate its needs. That’s why the wide participation of civil structures in the development of educational institutions can provide such an effective feedback. The role of the state in this connection is very important. The state can contribute to the creation of the conditions under which the social and civil efforts can be really effective. To do this the state has to reduce its own functions and to delegate the part of its responsibilities to the civil structures.
This approach leads to the important principle of subsidiary police. The principle of state subsidiary (the outside assistance can be provided when only in need) is a fundamental principle of the civil society.
There is another comment to the term “principle of subsidiary”: the biggest group in the society has no right to regulate what the smaller group can manage itself. For example, the family is responsible for children’ education. And the state has to stay apart of what can be done within the family.
In the society and, particularly, within the education system the subsidiary principle means: -the municipal administration take part only in solving problems that local (school) administrations didn’t manage to solve -the regional authorities take part only in solving problems that municipal administrations didn’t manage to solve -the state authorities take part only in solving problems that regional administrations didn’t manage to solve
The important part of the democratic civil development is the state recession from the monopoly to the school. Scholars’ parents have the whole right to choose a school, school teachers have a pedagogic freedom within the framework of the educational process.
The principles of education freedom is especially developed in the countries having strong civil traditions – such as Great Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, i.e. in the countries having stable and permanent development of political and democratic systems free of deep crisis.
The example of Finland is of a great interest because Finland shows best results in the world within PISA (Program for International Student Assessment). Before both Finish and Swedish models provided strong centralization in the educational programs and methodic. But after the 1990 reforms and transferring of responsibility to the local communities many schools got much freedom to determine both methods and forms and the content of the education. To begin with this period of time according to the Law on Local Self-Government all the issues related to the school self-organization are being solved by the communities.
GENERAL STATE OF THE RUSSIAN EDUCATION
Many facts witness the period of a deep crisis that the Russian system of education survives today.
The period of falling of the education quality is going on. Within the educational sphere Russia demonstrates stably low results according to the international standards. This is a very objective and serious tendency.
First, Russian scholars are very poor prepared to use the got knowledge and skills in practice. Second, the level of getting knowledge is also tendency to fall.
The content of education in schools is really low and unsatisfactory, it doesn’t respond to modern needs, it’s oriented to the needs of the past. Many experts also stress the lack of research international experience and research. But in a number of countries with not much high level of education such results and researches are subject of a public discussion within the society and general and in the professional sphere, too. They represent a good base for correction of educational programs, educational technologies and training methodic.
The effectiveness of using budget resources remains low. Even the obvious and of course positive tendency of increasing budget for education doesn’t seem to be very effective.
According to the Ministry of science and education statistics in all constituent entities of the Russian federation the average value of expenses for one scholar reduced from 10,3 RUB in 2002 to 9,1 RUB in 2003. Russia today really falls behind the developed countries in the educational sphere.
Even the measures taken within the framework of 2004 reform give not a less ground to hope that Russia is able to overcome such a serious retardation. Within the education system the 70 % of the budget income is the salary fund. But the real salary for the while educational system in the country is only one half to compare to the average salary in the industry.
Such situation inevitably leads to the negative tendency in cadres selection for this sphere. This is a very important tendency showing not only the lack of expenses for the education but also the minuses of the whole system in general.
The last period events witness that the Russian government doesn’t consider education as a priority sphere.
Within 2002-2004 the share of expenses from the federal budget for the education needs increased to 0,2% and represent now 4,3% of the whole budget. At the same period the expenses for the national defense were increasing 4 times quicker and the expenses for security and law-enforcement bodies activities – 13 times quicker.
So, even a short analysis shows that the society and the education are developing separately and using different ways. The speed of society development and economic growth within the period of last 15 years is considerably higher to compare with the development of the education. And it is very important to stress that one of the most considerable sources (and indexes) is the phenomena of the estrangement of the education from the society.
In today Russia the most considerable parameters regulating schools activities are determined by a director being appointed administratively or another person representing higher level of the state management. Such persons deal with 99% of all schools problems. Among them:
-the content of educational process\
-educational technologies, system of evaluation, organization of education, conditions,
-school economics (budget financing, expenses, salary fund etc.)
-cadres (school administration, teachers, technical assistance staff etc.
But today this model is not more effective. Many scholars’ parents are not at all happy about the conditions of education and stay of their children at school.
Russia today is among the states with a very high training load at schools, especially at its middle range – the so called “basic school”. The children health in today Russia is being aggravated. The Chief State Health Inspector affirms, that the morbidity of children under 14 years during 5 last years increased for 21%. Only 30% of all scholars are considered apparently healthy.
The improvement of the whole education system in Russia needs the involvement and using a wide range of various resources – administrative, pedagogic, economic, financial etc. But the most important part of this process is the possibility of the civil structures to participate in schools life, i.e. to change considerably the whole system of schools management. New standards of education content, a new system of evaluation and new schemas of budget financing didn’t change the school format, its management.
PROFESSIONAL AND HIGH EDUCATION
During last ten years situation in the high and professional education has considerably changed.
In today’s Russia the majority of parents try to give their children high education. The demographic situation makes these plans quite real. But the situation engenders also new problems.
We witness today the increasing differentiation of high education. The experts speak not only about the difference in education quality in different institutes but also about the difference in specialties on the level of one institute.
The families’ expenses for their children education increase. We witness today the increase of not only direct but also indirect expenses related to the life support of students.
Today within the framework of the Bologna Process (where Russia is an active participant) aimed at the creation of all-European high education space it is very important to draw special attention to the students involvement in education management. At the Berlin conference the education ministers stressed that the students are real partners within the process of education management. It was also stressed that the process should be considerably increased.
The content of humanitarian disciplines in high schools also needs an improvenebt and further development.
The system of additional education in Russia has inherited the structure and management of the Soviet Union. Let’s mark some of the most important problems in this sphere.
-A very disproportional accessibility to the institutions providing additional education,
disproportions of possibilities of scholars in cities and villages.
-The reduction of number of additional education programs
-Small volumes and low speed of such programs implementation
-Increasing expenses for the additional education
-Lack of system flexibility
-Lack of direct contact between institutions of basic and additional education
-Lack of effective management
It is also important to note that the society is not only the customer of educational services. The society in general and civil society institutions and NGOs can play and active role in implementing socially important projects in the system of education in our country. In particular, the NGOs are able to solve numerous problems that the state itself can’t solve.
The development of the civil society institutions depends considerable on the socio-economic and political activeness of the youth.
The youth police implemented before in our country wasn’t seriously a policy because its results didn’t create any basis for the development of the youth self-organization. The police was restricted by financing some of the youth organizations and activities.
We suppose that the real youth policy’s sense is to create necessary conditions for the development of the youth movement, its self-organization, involvement in the civil society and increasing its role.
To do this it is necessary to solve three important problems:
To create necessary conditions for financing this segment of the civil society, including financing youth initiatives. To give the youth civil organizations and youngsters the possibility to solve problems independently. To create mechanisms allowing to take into account youth opinions and interests within making decisions on the state level.
But the state structures and authorities must take part only in the implementation of the socially important and effective programs that the youth can’t implement itself.
LEGISLATIVE AND ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGES IN 2004 AND THEIR INFLUENCE TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF EDUCATION
Main changes in the educational process and education management related to the role and responsibilities of state in the education sphere were reflected in the Federal Law ¹ 122 – 22.08.2004.
According to the official position of the government main reason for this law adoption was the will to divide the functions and responsibilities of different organs of the power, to provide the financing of this process, to liquidate contradictories existing in this sphere.
But the analysis of the legislative acts and norms in this sphere shows that the legislative development in 2004 didn’t contribute to the creation of civil society institutions and the involvement of social resources in this sphere. We are also deeply concerned by the fact that the state has stopped the policy of the federal educational policy especially in the sphere of resources providing education and stimulating private investing to the education development.
The 2004 administrative reform has influenced considerably the development of education. The consequences of the reform aren’t completely clear but we can fix now very short and more visible results.
The reform was providing the division of the executive power federal organs into three levels: Ministries, Federal services and Federal agencies. It was supposed that all three stages should be independent. But in practice the Federal service and Federal agency depends on the Ministry.
A number of commissions, committees and departments inside these structures double each other activities, the responsibility decreases, the number of intermediate ranges and the documents circulation terms increase.
It is necessary to stress that the majority of the civil commissions, councils, other advisory organs that stopped their activities within the reorganization haven’t yet restarted their work. The old mechanisms of the social influence to the education system died but the new mechanisms haven’t been created.
The participation of civil society institutions in the education system in Russia practically doesn’t exist. The education is not considered as an effective factor of the civil society in the country.
Most negative consequences of the administrative reforms and legislative changes are possible in the sphere of basic education. This is related to two main factors: -First, in 2005 the state stopped the establishing the minimal financing level of the basic education obligatory for all constituent entities.
-Second, in 2005 the system of unified salary fund in the sphere of education was
liquidated and as a result the preconditions for the further negative differentiation of
salaries in various constituent entities of the Russian federation have appeared.
As the foreign and international experience shows, the real social and civil support of the education, the participation of the civil society in this sphere are possible and can be very effective. For the moment this resource remains unused. The state should change its policy in the sphere of education and take serious considerable measures in three directions: to increase budget financing, to create an effective system of tax benefits, to create necessary conditions stimulating the participation of the society in the education management and the involvement of the citizens resources.
To strengthen the civil part of the education, to make education a real resource of the civil society it is necessary:
-To provide managing schools councils having strict functions and real responsibility.
-To provide local, regional and federal councils of pupils’ parents.
-To recreate the institutions of students’ self-government
-To involve actively the employers and NGOs in the regional and local councils for the
-To provide real possibilities for the institutes graduates for their participation in forming
the list of specialties and programs of high education
-To use widely the experience and resources of civil organizations for the development of additional education programs -To support civil youth organizations in the implementation of socially important projects, particularly through the system of the states grants -To increase the informational transparency of education
Only in this case the education and the civil society can be a whole system able to satisfy effectively the needs of the social and civil development and the world economy and to contribute to the preparation of the well qualified cadres for our country.
A. Mayorov – Expert and analytical center of the national foundation of cadres preparation, Chair
A. Pinsky – The Moscow school ¹ 1060, Director, member of the Russian civil
council to develop education E.Saburov – the research instructor of the Institute of education development A.Shishlov – St Petersburg humanitarian and political center “Strategy”, director of
Editor : A.Lopukhin