In particular, the Minister noted that at present there takes place the demographic slump, which has affected both the general education school, and the elementary and secondary professional education (EPE and SPE). As concerns the higher professional education, a decline in the number of students is expected to start in 2010. The demographic slump was also a factor behind the contraction of the network of preschool institutions and general education schools.
In the system of EPE, over the period under observation the decrease in the number of institutions made 7.8 per cent; however, the number of students remained at the same level. This development was related to the integration between the EPE and SPE institutions. The network of secondary professional education institutions resumed its growth after an insignificant decline observed in through 2001. In the last few years, the number of higher education institutions has increased.
In 2004, there began the process of transfer of EPE and SPE educational institutions to the jurisdiction of RF subjects. Prior to the end of the year, there will be transferred 2517 EPE institutions and 299 SPE institutions. By January 1, 2005, it is planned to transfer to the jurisdiction of the Federal Education Agency 570 SPE institutions, 77 establishments for additional professional training and institutions for higher professional education. It is planned to complete the process of transfer in 2006.
The insufficient financing of the educational system resulted in the fact that in present the degree of wear and tear of the fixed assets in the educational system is above 31 per cent. Many educational establishments are in emergency condition or require capital repairs. At the same time, over the last few years, there was begun the renovation of the material basis and equipment in the educational establishments across all levels of education.
In 2004, the expenditures of the consolidated budget should make Rub. 531.2 billion. At present, only about 20 per cent of all expenditures for education are financed from the federal budget, while the share of expenditures from the budgets of RF subjects is at the same level. The major part of the burden and responsibility for the financing of educational institutions (60 per cent of the total expenditures) is on the local budgets. The transfer of EPE and SPE institution in the jurisdiction of RF subjects will result in a shift in the structure of expenditures for education, thus increasing the share of regional budgets in the consolidated budget.
Over the last few years, there were prepared and submitted to the State Duma draft laws envisaging the introduction of amendments to the RF law “On education” and the federal law “On higher and postgraduate professional education.” Certain amendments should be made to the Family and Civil Codes of the RF as concerns the legal regulation of educational relations. An important development in the educational system was the approval of the RF law “On amendments to certain legislative acts of the Russian Federation as concerns the financing of educational institutions” of July 7, 2003. In accordance with this law, the responsibility for salaries of school teachers and financing of educational expenditures of schools was raised to the regional level.
The Minister noted that the educational system still faces numerous problems, among which he indicated the following:
- insufficient coordination of the measures envisaged by the Concept and nonobservance of the deadlines set forth by the Concept;
- persistence of the most important problems faced by teachers – the issue of a competitive level of salaries, pensions, and social status;
- underdevelopment of the continuous professional education;
- deterioration of the quality of higher professional education at the background of the growing number of students;
- lack of an efficient public and state system of control over the quality of education;
- inefficiency of the system of financial and economic mechanisms of the resource provision of educational activities at all levels of the educational system, lack of the mechanisms of concentration of resources in the priority areas of the development of education;
- and so on.
According to the report, the system of education does not meet the requirements of the social and economic development, what is primarily reflected by the lack of adequate reaction of professional education to the needs of the labor market, inflexibility, inertia, and weak reaction of the system of education to external signals.
In the sphere of education, there is observed the lack of teachers and managers having necessary skills, what is caused by a number of reasons. The current mechanisms of state administration do not answer the task of creation of favorable conditions for the development of the educational system.
Due to the growth in the number of new participants of the educational market, the system of management faces two groups of aims. One group is determined by the necessity to regulate the activities of the new participants of the educational process, to monitor and control the quality of education. The second group of aims is related to the creation of the mechanisms of distribution of the positive experience obtained in the new conditions of educational activities. These targets require the use of more “fine” tools than the current management mechanisms.
According to the report, at the present stage of modernization of Russian education, the priority guidelines of the state policy should be:
- development of a modern system of continuous professional education;
- enhancement of the quality of professional education;
- ensuring of availability of quality general education;
- enhancement of investment attractiveness of the sphere of education.
The efficient implementation of the priority guidelines should be ensured by the solution of the following problems:
1. In order to develop a modern system of continuous system of professional education, it is necessary:
- to create conditions for the enhancement of the number of organizations rendering educational services in the sphere of professional education and training of personnel;
- to create conditions for dissimilation of public and professional mechanisms of attestation and accreditation of educational programs;
- to create conditions in which public institutions might play a more important role in the management of education;
- to form a national system of appraisal of the quality of education received by citizens and implemented educational programs;
- to create conditions for ensuring the educational mobility of students.
It is necessary to create the infrastructure of access to continuous professional education over the whole period of professional activities, the key elements of which should be:
- programs of professional training, further training, and advanced training built on the module principles, as well as the organizations and institutions of different ownership forms, which should implement such programs;
- NGOs and professional organizations, which should form qualification requirements to the level of training of specialists adequate to the needs of the labor market, search for and select modern educational technologies, and appraise (attest and accredit) the quality of educational programs;
- a unified system of test points built on the basis of a modern informational infrastructure of control, keeping, and accumulation of the data on the results of education and training obtained by the citizen in different educational organizations;
- a national system of appraisal of the quality of education independent of other organizations implementing educational programs, which should ensure the existence of a common educational space based on the availability to citizens of the means of objective control over the level of knowledge and competence they obtained.
In his report, the Minister noted the necessity to expand the list of organizations having the right to render services relating to the continuous professional education via the inclusion in this list of large commercial and other non-educational organizations, as well as the necessity to switch from management of educational institutions to management of educational programs.
The creation of principally new mechanisms of attestation and accreditation of educational programs will require the formation of organizational and legal conditions for the development of public and professional organizations, which should include representatives of professional associations, educational community, and associations of employers. One of the tasks of such organizations should be the formation of requirements to the level of necessary professional qualification, contents and technologies of education, as well as the competence of specialists working in different sectors of the public production.
At present, in order to ensure the development of the continuous education system, the is prepared a draft law on amendments to the RF law “On education” as concerns the regulation of additional professional education. The draft law should set forth a new procedure governing the regulation of activities of organizations implementing additional professional programs, including the enhancement of the list of organizations implementing additional professional programs, changes in the procedures governing attestation, and creation of prerequisites for public and professional attestation of such programs, as well as the respective changes in the procedures governing the state accreditation of the organizations implementing such programs.
The approval of this draft law should create the basis for a further development of the system of continuous professional education.
2. In order to improve the quality of professional education, it is necessary:
- to switch to a two tier system of higher education;
- to restructure the EPE and SPE systems;
- to create conditions for the innovational development of the system of professional education, integration of educational, scientific, and practical activities.
The most important component of the complex transformation of the sphere of higher education is the transition to a two tier system: the bachelor level (first level) and the master (second) level (or training of a specialist on the basis of the bachelor level). In the present conditions, in order to improve the quality of higher education, the bachelor and master education should become independent levels of education, each of them having own tasks and aims.
In order to switch to a two tier system of higher education, it is necessary:
- to classify the areas of higher education;
- to elaborate a new methodological basis of the state standards for enlarged types of training of bachelors;
- to ensure the development and approval of the state educational standards as concerns bachelors in the framework of the selected areas of education;
- to work out Regulations concerning the master level, which would envisage broad academic freedoms of higher education institutions with respect to the formation of inter-discipline programs;
- to elaborate the criteria of licensing and accreditation of master programs and master courses.
3. In order to enhance the accessibility of quality general education, it is necessary:
- to switch to the sectoral system of remuneration of educators, including the use of the mechanism of reduction of weekly load on students and rise in the salaries of teachers;
- to create a mechanism of targeted support of students and enhance the accessibility of additional education;
- to switch to specialized education in the senior school as a means to satisfy the individual educational requirements of students;
- to change the structure of the standard of general education by inclusion of the requirements to the level of training of graduates, the conditions of carrying out of educational activities, model basis educational plan.
4. In order to enhance the investment attractiveness of the sphere of education, it is necessary:
- to create conditions for the enhancement of the economic independence of educational institutions by the introduction of more diverse organizational and legal forms of educational organizations;
- to create conditions for lowering of investment risks associated with the investment in the educational sphere by the development of public institutions of management of education;
- to ensure greater transparency for the founders of the processes of financial and economic management of educational institutions;
- to create conditions for ensuring of higher quality of management of educational institutions.
In his report, the Minister also noted the necessity to modernize the financial and economic mechanisms in the sphere of education. The financing of the system of education should be based on the principle of “performance management”. It is necessary that any program of development of educational activities financed from the budget contained a clear list of performance indicators.
The complexity of the system, its multifunctional and multipurpose nature determines the necessity to use different financial instruments used in the unified system and in optimal combination. Among these instruments, there should be singled out the normative per capita financing, which permits to ensure the transparency of allocation of budgetary financial means, to tie the amount of financing directly to the consumer of the educational service on the principle “money follow the student”. Yet another instruments of budget financing should become the financing of the development of the educational system based on medium term programs.
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