Reforming Education in the Regions of Russia
Russia's educational system, with broad access, and high levels of scholarly achievement, has long been a source of strength. The Soviet system, ... Show synopsis Russia's educational system, with broad access, and high levels of scholarly achievement, has long been a source of strength. The Soviet system, however, was grossly overcentralized, inefficient, and lacking in accountability. In the last decade, attempted rapid decentralization has not been well designed, since there has been no commensurate transfer of resources and levels of responsibility have remained unclear. Unless corrected soon, the harmful impact on educational quality and equity could be very serious. The purposes of this report are to analyze the nature of the current problems and to discuss policy options open to the Russian Government in its efforts to improve educational efficiency, preserving and even improving equitable access, without sacrificing traditions of academic excellence. This report is based on analysis of trends across the 89 Russian regions and case studies. In its conclusions, the report draws on this regional experience to suggest reform options. Among other proposals, efficiency could be increased by giving schools increased financial autonomy, using of per capita financing formulae, and beginning to rationalize the teaching force and improve its quality. A national system of student assessment might help both to raise quality and improve the equity of access to highly selective institutions. Reforms are required to improve the market responsiveness of first-level vocational education, and especially to avoid excessive and premature specialization. Education practitioners and policy makers will find this publication of interest.