May, 20, 2009 RSDUY debates “Current Russian Educational Reform: Progress or Degradation?”, St. Petersburg

Lida Belkevich and Dmitry Mihailov were defending the reform, while Eugene Konovalov and Sergey Nesterov were debating against it. The battle was uncompromising and it is next to impossible to define the emotional atmosphere of the desire to win and the depth of logical intricacy of the arguments used. Dmitry has revealed to us the roots of the Soviet educational, starting back from 1632 and having the goal of creating a powerful armed force. Do you want to learn the whole story? Well, I won’t tell it to you here—there’re benefits to actually attending the debates. The following are the arguments pro et contra the educational reform: Pro: 1. Bologna process destroys the Soviet educational system build for the purpose of serving an authoritarian militarist state and turns it towards the real economy’s needs and the needs of the individuals; 2. Educational reform is needed since the educational system has been shown to be ineffective since the 1980s; 3. Educational system was built in such a way that the theoretical knowledge could not be applied and that there’s a gap between the theoretical framework and the present reality; 4. USE is just a form of using an European standard in Russia; 5. USE is one standard for everyone; 6. USE lessens the corruption opportunity; 7. USE actually finds out how educated one is; 8. A good student won’t have a problem in any educational system. Contra: 1. USE oftentimes tests over different areas that what is taught in schools—as a result, in some regions, there’re up to 60% of students who fail the exam; 2. Teachers don’t know what to prepare the students for; 3. Western model is being brought over without modifications to account for the environment; 4. This destroys peoples’ lives; 5. The reform costs a lot, while teachers are very underpaid and schools do not have much to work with; 6. There’s still a lot of corruption left in the college entrance process; 7. USE is a testing method that does not reflect on the deepness and the quality of the knowledge; 8. Educational system that teaches to think should be tested accordingly; 9. The change to Bachelor+Master’s system leads to the programs being shortened by year; 10. The bachelor programs are to be cut to just three years and master’s programs are to be non-free; 11. Master’s programs would just repeat the bachelor’s ones and would not teach much new (which is the case right now); 12. A diploma received after this still won’t be universally usable in Europe; 13. Schools that won’t have the first grade next year will never be able to have it again. The entrance process for the first-graders is shifted from the end of August to the end of June.