Equal access to education should ensure GDP growth

20 december 2018

"The President's May decree sets some ambitious goals such as increasing the competitiveness of the country, including in the education market," noted Lead Adviser of the Analytical Center Inna Karakchieva as she opened a roundtable titled "Educational Equality: Problems, Prospects and Solutions".

"We realize that the educational strategy must be updated," the expert said. "The mechanisms that the state used before such as the standardization of education programs and federal standards have produced the results they were intended for but they have now practically exhausted themselves."

Having studied the issue of equality in the access to education in Russia, World Bank experts have concluded that Russia has been demonstrating some positive results in ensuring everyone has equal access to education compared to other countries at the same level of economic development and the difference in academic achievement between students from the most well off and the least well off social groups is the smallest. This has been helped by some serious measures that have been put in place to improve the educational policy, believes Andras Horvai, the Director and Permanent Representative of the World Bank in Russia.

The fact that most parents in Russia have good education themselves and are steeped in arts and culture has a positive impact on their children. Anther factor that has a positive impact on the achievements of school students is the sense of belonging in school, the authors of the study note. According to them, in some cases, schools that offer numerous extracurricular activities produce much better outcomes than expected while the significance of the socio-economic status of the students declines.

In order for Russia to make it into the top 10 countries in terms of quality of education, the level of the weakest students must be improved, believes Senior Education Specialist and World Bank projects coordinator in Russia Tigran Shmis. "Russia has average literacy figures for students aged 15. If the country wants to make it into the top ten, this indicator needs to be improved by stimulating the worst performing schools. This would translate into significant gains for the economy. Our estimates suggest that this would add about 1/3 of GDP over about 20 years," Mr Shmis said.

In addition, when working on the new education strategy it is necessary to focus on competences for which there will be demand in the future, the expert stressed. He was talking about cooperative problem solving skills, digital competency, creative and flexible thinking skills.