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Ready or Not –the Coming Revolution in Education

May 26, 19:00 UTC+3
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Knowledge is becoming a dominant factor of global competitiveness, with education getting increasingly important. The world is on the brink of revolution here: learning is set to be continuous, online, and liberated.

In recent years, the education market leaders have been completing the process aimed to extend the outreach of education and make it standardised. The process has been accompanied by a number of visible trends:

  • Most of the countries at the top of international higher education rankings have strengthened their positions against the backdrop of shrinking public funding. Over the past 20 years, the total expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP in the OECD countries has increased by more than 23% as a result of growing private investment and tuition costs. Very few countries (mainly in Northern Europe) have managed to keep high-quality education funded almost exclusively by the government.
  • In most of the leading nations, secondary education is losing in depth but gaining in breadth.
  • OECD countries show considerable variance in academic performance at schools based on financial status, place of residence (urban vs rural), etc.
  • The percentage of projects and practical tasks in the curriculum is going up.

Within the next 20 years, revolutionary changes in education can be expected to take place all over the world:

  • Learning will get continuous while qualification requirements will see some rapid changes – employees will have to develop deeper competences all the time and be able to change their profiles. The same will also be true for aging population, who will be playing an increasingly important role in human resources due to demographic processes.
  • Distance learning and new formats of educational services will be gaining further popularity.
  • Access to up-to-date databases of e-learning resources will be expanding.
  • The interactive component in the learning process will be enhanced: many courses will be delivered in a blog format, and education professionals will be using online networks to exchange experience and ideas, which is likely to boost their expertise and efficiency.
  • According to Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills at OECD, by 2035 the world will see a ‘liberated’ education, and the governments will cease to supervise teaching on a regular basis.

Although Russia and developed countries have similar trends in education, Russia is yet to bridge a considerable gap, and due to the financial crisis, reduced funding, and a lack of qualified staff, the process is bound to be rather challenging.

  • In recent years, the Government has made every effort to ensure alignment of the Russian education system with global standards (Bologna process, Unified State Exam, etc.). As a result, Russia has improved its position in international university rankings. On the other hand, most attempts to bolster research work at universities are inefficient.
  • International student assessment surveys show that Russia has high scores in TIMSS (comparison of students’ educational achievements) and relatively poor results in PISA (assessment of students’ ability to solve practical and unfamiliar tasks). However, according to the latest PISA data, Russian students have caught up with their counterparts from OECD countries in terms of average mathematics and reading results.
  • Lately, academic performance across Russia’s urban and rural areas has evened out, driven among other things by digitisation of education, e.g. internet access and social networking.
  • Use of computer technology at school has soared, with IT companies taking an active part in designing specialised university and school curricula.

Nevertheless, the Russian education system is struggling to keep up with the global changes that lead to developing a ‘knowledge society’.

  • There is a lack of attention to extra-professional skills that are vital for everyone (regardless of a specific career path): project management, a systemic approach, teamwork, etc.
  • Nowadays, cross-disciplinary knowledge (e.g. engineering and medical classes at school or university), which is much sought after in the new economic context, is hardly offered in curricula.
  • Russia is still far from being ready for continuous learning. According to a report by the Center for Strategic Research (April 2017), adults in Russia upgrade their competences three times less frequently than residents of peer countries.
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