Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Are Changes in Russian Education Necessary?

During the Soviet Union’s era, Russian education was considered one of the best in the world. Nonetheless, in 2008 it appeared 45th as rated by the World Economic Forum. According to the world specialists the main reason for moving far down the list is that Russian education does not meet the world’s, Western-oriented, standards of education. Because of that, diplomas earned in Russian higher education institutions are not convertible in foreign countries. Russian specialists in education also point out that education in Russia was not properly modified for quite a long period of time, but education cannot exist without a systematic change and development. Ensuing reforms with an attempt to adjust Russian education to the Western standards created an educational tangle. Therefore, this development should happen inside the educational system and be organic because copying others’ methods of success will not lead to the same achievement.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, most progressive countries tried to achieve alignment with Western education. The Russian government, unfortunately, put aside the matters of education. The consequence of this neglect was that according to the world reviews, Russian education was not practical and could not compete on the world market. In order to recover world status, the reformation of the Russian education system began in accordance with Western standards. This total Westernization of education, however, contradicts Russian mentality. The aim of Russian education has always been to give children the knowledge about the world, to develop children as many-sided personalities who are able to take responsibility for themselves, their society, and their communities. With current orientation to Western standards these qualities are mostly denied. The market approach is introduced into education which can lead to creating a “biocomputer” consisting of programs which are in demand on the market. This is proved by the fact that in former times we spoke about the ‘art of teaching’ and ‘pedagogical creativity’. Nowadays, we more and more hear and read about ‘educational technologies’, ‘anthropotechniques’, ‘human resources’ and other terms which are in conflict with human nature and soul.

Another significant reason for modifications in the Russian education was that Russian people who received education in our educational institutions were accused of the lack of practicality and absence of pragmatism. However, alterations targeted at meeting these requirements have lead to the loss of the valuable foundation that the broad holistic approach has provided for the Russian education system. As the results of a few years of reformation show, the knowledge that formed a holistic scientific picture of the world is being substituted with exclusively pragmatic and technological information and skills. Following Western standards in the Russian education reformation and corresponding loss of the holistic approach have meant a dehumanization of the Russian education system, revealed by the sacrifice of humanitarian disciplines with world- outlook building such as history, literature, philosophy that shaped moral core and broad thinking of a personality to socio-economic sciences such as political and social studies, economics, marketing, and management.

In an attempt to fit our education into the Western system, the Russian government has been carrying out education reforms during the last decade. This reformation, however, leads to a huge loss of a solid holistic base of Russian education. It seems imperative that we should create such a system of education in which Russian academic school and culture and corresponding benefits are integrated with the Western model of education instead of being sacrificed entirely in the name of reformation.

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