General education should be got rid of excessive restrictions

8 october 2018

The Analytical Center has become an intellectual partner of the 2nd International Exhibition Build School, the only event in Russia that comprehensively covers all the aspects of designing, building and equipping schools and kindergartens. Inna Karakchieva, the Analytical Center expert, moderated a jointly organized discussion panel "Creative Technologies for the New Educational Infrastructure for Childhood". She also speaks at the round table "Educational Environment of the Future".

"In today's world, the education means a lot and close public attention to issues related to school and kindergarten is understandable and easy to explain," Ms. Karakchieva said. "Creating a comfortable modern educational environment is the most important objective in designing educational infrastructure. Acoustic and lighting solutions, environmental friendliness, adaptation to changing requirements, these are just some of the multitude of criteria that can be used to assess how comfortable the environment is in which your child spends most of his or her day."

The environments offered by general education institutions in Russia are rated as average by international experts. They score the lowest on the 7 point SACERS scale: 4.07 for Space and Furnishings, 3.86 for Activities and Pastime, 4.44 for Special Needs (conditions for special needs children).

Among the key problems encountered when trying to build modern educational infrastructure cited by Ms. Karakchieva are a lack of educational floor space, a shortage of special purpose premises, lack of variety in decor and equipment, low adaptability of spaces for in-class and extracurricular activities.

"On the whole, there are also the traditional problems: we still don't have a system for interdepartmental interaction on innovative approaches to the educational infrastructure," the expert concluded. "The priority project for the creation of modern educational infrastructure for the general education system does not take into account such aspects as risk management, monitoring and assessment of qualitative changes resulting from the implementation of the project."

According to the expert, a procurement system that seeks to make purchases at the lowest possible prices and a lack of understanding of what needs to be acquired from the point of view of social and pedagogical needs are holding back the development of modern educational environments. The existing system has other drawbacks as well, such as insufficient flexibility, which is especially bad when budget constraints are imposed. There is also a whole range of specific constraints imposed by outdated hygienic and health and safety requirements, excessive education supervision requirements and consumer supervision requirements that run counter to modern trends in education and others.

"Today, we might suggest introducing an educational infrastructure assessment system (including public assessment), as well as mechanisms for public discussion of projects", Ms. Karakchieva said.

The expert believes that in order to make the education system attractive to potential investors it's important to make provisions for the development of a broad range of investment models for the creation of modern school infrastructure through public-private partnership. "We also have to admit that at the moment when it comes to creating educational environments the private sector has so far proven to be far more flexible, technology-driven and overall modern," Ms. Karakchieva concluded.

Photo from open sources