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Education for all

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Final reflections

Out for a ride with time to think

The morning sun shines into my room, and birds are chirping. The two-month holiday at the language school where I’m working has just started. It’s a bit difficult to believe that the time for the last entry for this blog has already come. I still have lots of thoughts to share with our readers!

Lately I’ve been riding my bike in the countryside in the evenings – it’s a good chance to relax after a very full year and to improve my skills in photography. Along the way, I think a lot about the enormous difference between rural and urban areas in my country, and between their inhabitants’ mentalities. What’s difficult to explain is that many Russians would like to move outside the city and buy nice houses there, but most villagers prefer the idea of finding a job in the city (or at least sending their children to get educated there). Of course that’s due to the financial divide between these areas, but we need to make this division less extreme.

Date

July 12, 2012 | 10:00 am

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Ranking Russian universities: why bother?

Does education suffer far from the urban centers and elite universities?

This week I expect to get my diploma – one more step in my higher education which began in 2006. I’ve been thinking a lot about what these years have meant, especially in terms of my decision to leave my original university and study somewhere else.

Several weeks ago I read an interesting column in a daily business newspaper where famous and respected economist Konstantin Sonin touched upon university ratings. The professor’s argument astonished me because he compared the Russian higher education system with its foreign counterparts and went on to say ranking Russian universities at all has basically no point!

Date

July 6, 2012 | 10:16 am

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Russia needs less talk, more action

We need action on the ground, not high-flying abstractions

As Maria noted in her last entry, she believes the social dialogue in Argentina is heading the wrong way – and it seems that every country faces such points in its development. As I look back on my university years, I agree with her.

Sometimes there is too much talking and not enough real action (I don’t just mean the educational sphere only; it can be noticed in all of Russian economic or political life). With all due respect to the talented and brilliant professors and teachers of previous generations who helped several Russian geniuses (mathematician Grigori Perelman, for example) to reveal their potential, I would like to see changes in educational life.

Date

June 27, 2012 | 12:00 pm

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The silence of Russian educators

Libraries have organized discussions for teachers - but none about their rights

Reading Maria’s entry where a teachers’ strike was discussed made me think about dissatisfaction with the Russian education system – both from teachers and others.

What surprises and worries me most is that our teachers never organize strikes or try to make their voices be heard. It happens neither in small cities nor in big ones. I know that most of our university professors do some tutoring or give private lessons throughout the year to earn additional money (for example, before high school students enter a university, their parents often find somebody to give a term-training course to prepare a teenager for the entrance examination). I think a collective demand for better salaries or modern equipment is reasonable – it might result in improving the situation in the whole region (or even several regions), and it is not about giving benefits to any single teacher.

Date

June 22, 2012 | 4:00 pm

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Reflecting on the value of a degree

People need the right environment in order to thrive

Emmy’s entry caught my attention because she talked about something I’ve faced myself – a lack of teachers combined with too many pupils in a class. It usually results in the following: Those who understand and are eager to learn do so, while those who have no intention to learn either sit quietly throughout the term or become obstacles to the teacher. Generally, these types of pupils just aim at getting a “satisfactory” mark. As one of my teachers used to say, it’s a mark that shows nothing – neither your skills in a particular sphere, nor your interests. But still, it’s over the level needed to pass an exam, so you are considered an educated person! There’s a danger when students graduate with most marks just at the satisfactory level. They are de jure qualified enough to work in the area they studied. But, de facto, they are almost incompetent. In reality, they seldom pursue a career in what they studied.

Date

June 19, 2012 | 5:47 pm

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“We shouldn’t seek some land of dreams abroad”

Talented young people are leaving small cities for the big and promising urban centers

The closer my graduation comes, the more I’ve been thinking about education in my country. And mostly Im worried. During the 3.5 years I’ve spent at my second university, I’ve talked with dozens of students about their views of the future, and I’ve heard their opinions about the situation today. I did the same at my former university, and I would say it’s like this: Many students who study in big cities and well-known universities (at least in Russia) are aiming to apply for positions in international companies so that they “get out of the country.” Just a few of them added “… and come back after having gained some experience there.”

Date

June 17, 2012 | 8:00 am

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Pavel on Skype: “There should be more educational opportunities in the countryside”

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June 11, 2012 | 12:06 pm

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Thinking back on former classmates

Picture: Pavel Mylnikov

Parting ways and thinking about what will come after the summer..

Summer is here, so pupils in Russia are saying goodbye to their high schools. For many of them, the period of college or university life is about to begin.

Sometimes I think about my former classmates and wonder whether they have successfully found their niche. I’m glad to know that one of my friends earned two university degrees in our native city and moved to a bigger one to take on a third course of study. Or another friend of mine, who is climbing up in the media sphere, calling people’s attention to different events in Russia and abroad. I remember also that a couple of boys decided not to enter a university but chose a vocational training program (VTA) – I wonder how they are doing now.

Date

June 4, 2012 | 11:51 am

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Taking a gap year – why not?

Picture: Pavel Mylnikov

Taking a bit of time before starting college isn't a bad idea

Kathrin’s recent entry mentioned Simon, whose worries as a pupil made me think about something relating to education beyond universities. A favorite topic among those getting ready to graduate: the gap year.

As I understand, it’s quite popular in Western countries. A spare year is open to you; it allows you to broaden your horizons while learning something new or doing some part-time work – or simply travel. One of its aims is to give you some extra time to plan your future. It’s natural that your interests may lie in different spheres by the end of school – so I think it’s good to take some time to think them over and decide where you want your path to lead. But for some reason, this positive phenomenon is practically unknown in lots of countries, including Russia. Why?

Date

June 1, 2012 | 10:32 am

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Clubs in Russia: join in or start your own

Picture: Pavel Mylnikov

Getting involved is the most important thing...

In her article, Kathrin mentioned Germany’s clubs where young people have the opportunity to attend courses they’re interested in – to learn something new or pick up additional skills. I found the topic really interesting because I also try to find ways of getting extra education in my life.

In any generation, there will be young people with no desire to study. However, among people I work and communicate with, the majority are eager to go on and get a degree. The problem is that the conventional model of education can’t fully satisfy their needs as it hasn’t kept pace with the world’s development.

Date

May 29, 2012 | 2:38 pm

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