The ten keys to education in Russia [Infographic]

Soviet education was considered one of the best in the world and, although the system has evolved greatly since the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, Russia continues to rank among the leading countries in education. In fact, in 2014 the Pearson report ranks Russian education as the eighth best in Europe and the thirteenth in the world (with an improvement of 13 places compared to 2012). How is the current Russian education? What characteristics, strengths or weaknesses does it have? We explain the keys to the educational system of the Russian Federation to better understand what is behind the good results of its students.
1. Education is compulsory up to age 15 and free even up to university. Compulsory formal education (Primary and Basic Secondary) begins at age 6 and ends at 15. Complete Secondary is from 15 to 17 and is optional. There is also the option of Professional or Vocational training (from 15 to 19 years old). All Russian citizens have the right to Primary, Basic Secondary and Complete Secondary education and also to free higher education in those centers that are state-owned, although there may be a lot of competitiveness and certain fees in the most demanded degrees.
2. Investment in education has increased a lot in recent years, but it is still below average. Despite the increase experienced between 2008 and 2012 (14%, three times more than in the OECD), the Russian Federation invests 2.3% of its gross domestic product in education, a figure lower than the OECD average, which it is 3.7%.
3. Students (and teachers) spend less time in school. The data on days and hours of instruction for Primary and Basic Secondary students are among the lowest in the OECD: 517 hours (the lowest figure in the OECD, whose average is 804 hours) or 169 days of classes for Primary (the lowest figure in the OECD next to Latvia); 877 hours (40 less than the OECD average) or 175 days for Basic Secondary (the average is 183). Primary and Basic Secondary teachers are also among those with the fewest teaching hours per year: 561 in Primary (the OECD average is 772) and 483 in Basic Secondary (the OECD average is 694).
4. The demand on students is high. Responsibility, rigor, seriousness, commitment or efficiency are highly valued in the Russian educational system. Homework is also plentiful. According to this study , in the Russian Federation students have about 10 hours of homework a week, the highest figure of all the countries analyzed.
5. The population has a high educational level. The literacy rate in Russia is practically 100% and, according to OECD data, the country has one of the lowest percentages of new young people between the ages of 25 and 34 who have not finished secondary school: 5% compared to the OECD average of 17%. This is a percentage that is closer to the average for Eastern European countries (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia and the Slovak Republic), which is 9%. Furthermore, 54% of adults between the ages of 25 and 64 have higher education (well above the OECD 35%).
6. Preparation in ICT and problem solving is deficient in adults in general and in teachers in particular. The Russian Federation (excluding the Moscow area) has one of the lowest percentages of adults with good ICT training and problem solving (24%) within the countries participating in the OECD Program for International Assessment of Adults ( PIAAC). The data is especially worrying for Russian teachers at non-university levels: only 29% are well prepared in these fields, compared to the average of 47%. According to some experts, this situation is a reflection of the technological stagnation that has occurred in the country itself. In this line, the new Ministry of Education and Science is making a great effort to promote the use of digital materials and devices, both through publishers, which it encourages to create interactive content, and with the provision of centers and universities.
7. Educational content is defined and controlled at three levels: state, federal and municipal. The Russian Ministry of Education sets the general guidelines for the system, which is completed with the legislative base and the budget for the financing of centers, the school calendar and teacher training, which are the responsibility of the federal governments. Local administrations manage schools and, for example, control the appointment of directors.
8. It is committed to collaboration and public information. From Soviet education have been inherited collaborative work, the support of some students to others and, in addition, public information to students and parents. For this reason, the educational community is jointly involved in education and, for example, the notes are visible to everyone and the meetings with the teacher are usually massive, with the rest of the parents in the class. This transparency helps to avoid corruption or privilege, especially in the university environment.
9. There are very innovative and prestigious private centers, but most are banned. In recent years, private, paid schools have proliferated, offering cutting-edge education accessible only to the elites: it is estimated new that only 5% of the population can access them. These types of centers combine some keys of traditional Soviet education, such as discipline and structure, with multimedia materials and individual learning.
10. Control and quality of Complete Secondary and higher education has increased. Among the latest measures to improve the quality of the educational system in Russia, the control of higher education institutions stands out, which had proliferated in recent years with the evolution of the Russian educational system towards greater levels of openness and liberalization. To guarantee the quality of all these private centers and institutes, educational standards have been established that are developed by universities with the supervision of the Government and licenses that certify that the center’s curriculum is adequate and the quality of the facilities is evaluated the preparation of teachers.