"Research conducted over the past decade suggests that there is no direct correlation between the funding that education gets and its outcomes," said Analytical Center expert Inna Karakchieva, speaking at a round table on investments and the effectiveness of preschool education and early child development.
However, investments are important, the expert believes. It goes without saying that in education return on investment takes a long time to materialize, usually decades down the road. However, a convincing argument could be made that funding early child development (preschool education) is more effective than funding any subsequent education programs for older children. Investments in early development help create the future of the country because the quality of early childhood conditions is a good predictor of the efficiency of the future workers. So it is no accident that the state education policy in Russia emphasizes preschool education in the efforts to develop the overall education system. To a large extent, it is the things that children learn in their early childhood only that then get expanded upon and transformed later in grade school and high school. And the mistakes that are made in early childhood education are practically impossible to put right later on.
In this context, it is important to note that Russia is an undisputed global leader when it comes to preschool education. Investments make preschool education more accessible regardless of the socio-economic situation of the families and their place of residence. Preschool education is being made more accessible in this country even as the total number of kids aged between 1 and 6 years of age is declining and preschool education spending is stagnating at 0.8% of the GDP. On the other hand, the past three years have seen 10% growth in the accessibility of preschool education to kids aged between 2 months and 3 years and this has resulted not just from the construction and renovation of buildings, the purchase and capital repairs of facilities and the support of non-governmental forms of financing and public private partnership but also from variable forms of education.
According to Ms. Karakchieva, in 2017 non-state forms of preschool education made up 2% of the total number of preschool facilities, while variable forms of education grew primarily through the functioning of 12 thousand consultancy centers, over 2 thousand preschool family groups, and in 12 regions of Russia, 26 universities opened preschool groups offering educational services. Among the large variety of forms of public-private partnership, the bulk was comprised of leases, concessions and contracts. "The examples cited suggest rather that the available opportunities are being underutilized and that efforts should be made to increase the investment attractiveness of the preschool education system," the expert noted.
Photo: from open sources