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International Scientific Conference "Multilevel Governance in Education: Top-Down Governance, Transfer of Authority and Regional Cooperation" was held at the National Research University "Higher School of Economics"

The conference was organized by the Centre for Education Law of the Institute of Education of the "Higher School of Economics" with the participation of the International Project "EduLaw" (Erasmus + Mundus - Curriculum Development)

For two days, the conference participants had a discussion about possible changes in the distribution of powers among different levels of government in the field of education. The conference was attended by speakers from Russia, Poland, Belgium, South Africa, Germany and the USA.

The conference was opened by Prof Victor Bolotov, a Scientific Director of the Center of Education Quality Monitoring at the Institute of Education, National Research University "Higher School of Economics", Doctor of Sciences. Professor made a report "Certain collisions in the development of multilevel management of the Russian school". The report referred to the problem of the relationship among different levels of government, and also raised the question of where the center of decision-making in the field of education should be: "at the state level or as close as possible to parents". Victor Bolotov also noted the existence of a unified education system in the USSR, when in all schools there was a certain list of textbooks and a clearly marked educational program from which it was impossible to deviate. However, at the moment the educational program and the list of references are independently developed and approved by school itself.

Professor Jan de Groof, Academic Supervisor of the Centre for Education Law of the Institute of Education, National Research University "Higher School of Economics", President of the European Association for Educational Law and Policy presented the report "Education policymaking in the Flemish Community of Belgium: balancing local autonomy and regional objectives". Particular attention was paid to linguistic rights in education, as well as the conditionality of modern regulation of education policy in the Flemish community with historical conditions and prerequisites.

Professor Hans-Peter Füssel, Advisor to the German Institute for International Educational Research, European Association for Education Law and Policy, spoke on the best and worst practices in multilevel governance of education system. The report dealt with multilevel governance in the EU. In conclusion, Prof Füssel noted that multilevel approach was a complex system consisting of a set of elements that were not clearly related to each other. However, this "opacity" is a cause for concern from the point of view of democratic control.

Mark Agranovich, Head of the Center for Monitoring and Education Statistics of the Federal Institute for Educational Development, PhD in Economics, PhD in Law, gave a presentation on "Who makes key decisions for schools in OECD countries?". The report presented key issues of school management at the level of secondary education, touched upon the organization of the educational process, personnel management (separately for teachers and principals), and educational planning and resource management. The levels of government were also analyzed in detail, where the levels of the state, the province, the region, and the subregion were combined into one subnational level. The speaker cited as an example the results of research on the following issues: "the proportion of decisions made at each level of management of basic secondary education in OECD countries by areas" and "the proportion of questions that are decided at different levels of management by countries". In conclusion, two research questions were asked: what determines the distribution of decision making by levels and how it affects learning outcomes.

Natalia Putilo, Head of the Department of Social Legislation, Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law under the Government of the Russian Federation, gave a presentation on the "Principle of multilevel governance of system of education: experience of implementation of the Federal Law on Education of 2012". The report was based on the analysis of the Federal Law of December 29, 2012, No. 273-FZ "On Education in the Russian Federation", which developed many provisions of the previously existing Law of the Russian Federation of July 10, 1992 No. 3266-1 "On Education". According to the speaker, with the adoption of the Federal Law of 2012, a significant systematization of approaches to the regulation of educational relations took place. As a result, the importance of regulatory legal acts adopted by constituent entities of the Russian Federation increased, norm-setting at the municipal level was minimized, and the scope of regulatory powers of an educational organization was significantly increased and, therefore, the role of bodies and organizations representing the interests of various subjects of educational relations.

Professor  Alexey Mayorov, Deputy Head of the Apparatus of the Committee for Education and Science of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, Doctor of Sciences made a presentation on the topic "Decision-making in education sphere on federal level in Russia". The main issue of the report was the existing imbalance in the distribution of powers. The keynote speakers sounded such key moments as causes, state, effects, and prospects regarding an imbalance in the distribution of powers at the federal level. All key problems of imbalance were analyzed in detail and, based on the voiced problems and possible prospects arising from the problems, a general conclusion was made about the need to update the mechanisms of distribution of powers taking into account the characteristics of the subjects, search and launch feedback mechanisms between the population and regional authorities.

Irina Sidorova, Adviser to the Governor of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, PhD in Pedagogical Sciences presented the report "Risks of shifting powers in education from municipal to state level". The topic of the report was related to the decree of the President of the Russian Federation "On the national goals and strategic objectives of the development of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2024", the purpose of which was to ensure the global competitiveness of Russian education. Such an initiative entails a number of risks in the education system. In the report, risks were presented on the example of cases of financial support for schools in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, as well as with the help of schemes detailing the essence of risks, regarding transformation in school management. Irina Sidorova came to the conclusion that the shift of powers in education from the municipal level to the federal level was inexpedient due to the weakening of a number of factors. The speaker also highlighted the conditions on which the effectiveness of school management depends.
Head of the Centre for Education Law of the Institute of Education, National Research University "Higher School of Economics", PhD in Law, Szymon Jankiewicz, presented the report "Distribution of powers in the field of education in Russia: Federal Law on education". The speaker began his speech with the statement that the federal structure of the state implies the distribution of powers among the federal authorities of the subjects of the Federation. It was also noted that in recent years there has been a significant redistribution of powers in the field of education between regions and municipalities in favour of the federal center, and regional powers had been significantly reduced. In this regard, the issue of a balanced distribution of powers among all levels of public legal entities is becoming increasingly important. However, if the powers of various levels of government are clearly separated in the Law on Education, this will allow regions and local governments to strive to organize their own standards in matters of competence, and also provide an opportunity to build an education system that will best meet the local specifics and needs of the population.

Head of the Department of Management, Economics and Law at the Krasnoyarsk Institute for Advanced Studies, PhD in Law, Sergey Krasnousov, spoke on the topic "Development of the education system in the region, taking into account the balance between federal and regional interests: the experience of the Krasnoyarsk Territory". Attention was drawn to the place of the educational system in the scheme of the socio-economic development of the region, the obvious close connection among different areas of management, but the actual absence of a system of interaction in content between them. In addition, the experience of the Krasnoyarsk Territory in coordinating the interests of the region and the federal center, and the implementation of federal and regional tasks was summarized.

Deputy Head of the Department of Social Legislation, Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law under the Government of the Russian Federation, PhD in Law, Natalia Volkova presented the report "Practice and prospects for self- regulation in education". The report raised issues of legal and non-legal level of influence on the development of relations in the educational environment, spoke about strengthening and strengthening the self-regulating elements as a result of updating educational legislation, and also discussed certain tools of self-regulation resulting from updating educational legislation and the adoption of federal law, the relevance of the issue of autonomy educational organizations. The establishment of the equality of the state and society in the development and implementation of the education system and the departure from the monopolistic management of education by the state were singled out as the most significant characteristics of the development of the modern Russian education system.

Vitaly Matveev, Head of the Laboratory for Educational Law at Moscow City University, PhD in Law, made a presentation entitled "Regulation of different institutions in education in Russia at the federal, regional and municipal levels: unity and diversity (on the example of homeschooling)". The analysis of the system of regulation of family education at the federal level was conducted, during which three main theses were singled out: the establishment of general requirements for education in the form of family education; fixing the rights and guarantees of general education in the family form; establishing some responsibilities for parents (legal representatives), as well as authorities of the subjects of the Russian Federation. The speaker paid attention to the forms of family and home education, including the designation of differences in the powers of the subjects of the Russian Federation and local governments. The question of obtaining monetary compensation for the expenses of receiving family education for their children was analyzed in detail.

Izabela Krasnicka, Associate Professor at the Department of International Public Law, Faculty of Law at the University of Bialystok, spoke on the topic "Recent reform of educational system in Poland. Powers of local government in education". The report mentioned two institutions that centrally managed the education system in Poland: the Ministry of Public Education (which oversees the work of schools and kindergartens together with regional pedagogical departments) and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, which works with the Central Council for Science and Higher Education. In addition, there was talk about the consequences of the reform of 1999 in the system of education management, the main idea of which was to divide the powers between the central government and local governments. At the end of the presentation, the rapporteur concluded that many more decisions were made at the school level in Poland than in other OECD countries.

Sergey Kosaretsky, Head of the Center for Social and Economic Development of the School of the Institute of Education, National Research University "Higher School of Economics", PhD in psychology. The speaker has noted that in Russia we are only approaching the topic of ensuring equal opportunities in education. In foreign countries, there are three ways to solve this problem: through the support of vulnerable groups of students, through the support of deprived areas and through the support of schools. In all cases, at the normative level, it is fundamental to consolidate the status of students whose problems in education are due to circumstances beyond their control. Such students do not have the right to free meals, they receive direct support or, depending on the number of students, schools receive such support.
In Russian legislation, there is no notion of "disadvantaged students", that is, a concept that links educational non-success with social disadvantage. As a rule, in Russian education, the same categories are used as in social support: needy children or children in difficult life situations. However, the legislation at the federal level did not set up specific mechanisms and principles that would allow taking this category into account when financing educational institutions or supporting schoolchildren in accessing additional education services.
Wilfried Rauws, Professor at the Free University of Brussels, gave a presentation on the "The social status of the education staff as domain of multilevel governance and ‘cooperative federalism’? Mechanisms of allocating public expenditure for staff in education". In the report the speaker outlined the importance of the social status of educators, which depended on his place of work, highlighted the legal status of the faculty relative to other employees, also regulated by public law, with the only difference that educators were bound by an employment contract that is governed by private law. In conclusion, the professor concluded that the competence to regulate education is almost entirely transferred from the federal state to the municipal level.

Oleg Prikot, Professor of the State Administration Department of the St. Petersburg School of Social Sciences and Area Studies, National Research University "Higher School of Economics", Doctor of Sciences, presented the report "Multilevel project governance in Russian education policy". The report analyzed the main provisions of project management, outlined the process, the internal meaning of project management in an educational organization, and also highlighted the levels of project management. In total, four levels of project management in education were singled out: federal, regional, municipal, and "institutional" level. The speaker sounded the results of the research conducted earlier in the St. Petersburg branch of the Higher School of Economics on the subject "Study of the readiness of school principals to work in the project management mode".

Charles Russo, Professor at the University of Dayton (USA), made a presentation "Centralization of power in educational policy in federal states. The judicial impact of practice on the distribution of powers in the field of education". The speaker noted that the role of judges was becoming increasingly important in the United States and many other countries. The report analyzed case studies from various states, paying special attention to the fact that judges often indicated an insufficient level of competence in dealing with educational policy issues and lacked specialized knowledge and experience.

Toon Moonen, Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Ghent, lawyer for the Brussels Bar Association, in his report "The Relevancy of comparative educational and constitutional law for post-communist Central European countries", noted that there were certain difficulties that the federal structure of the state gave to the system. The presentation highlighted the most important reasons for the relevance of comparative law in Central Europe, as well as the importance of comparative law in the context of the topic given by the report.

Olga Eremina, Research Fellow of the Department of Social Legislation, Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law under the Government of the Russian Federation, made a presentation on the topic "Efficiency assessment of governing boards of education: federal, regional and municipal level". The report analyzed three main stages of evaluating the effectiveness of power, determined as a result of an analysis of regulatory sources: from 2006 to 2012; from 2012 to 2017-2018; from 2018 to the present. It was told about the developed methods of evaluating the effectiveness of regional and municipal authorities, the application of these techniques and the results. Due to the fact that there are a large number of documents defining the performance indicators of public authorities, a high percentage of distortions in the integrity of the assessment system at different levels of education management are allowed. As a result, the need to define a clearer hierarchy of documents has been established. Despite the fact that the program for evaluating the effectiveness of government bodies has been developed and studied for a long time, the work itself on the development of performance indicators for the federal level of government has not yet begun.
Mariette Reyneke, Professor at the University of the Free State, presented the report "Multilevel governance in education South Africa". The speaker identified the need to reduce abuse of power; ensuring transparency and accountability; strengthening participatory democracy. Excerpts from the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa were voiced, but Professor Reyneke highlighted disregarding the Constitution by the departments of education as the main problem.

Anna De Ambrosis Vigna, Senior Lecturer of Administrative Law at the University of Bialystok, made a presentation on the topic "What is at stake in Poland?". The report referred to the need for reform in the education system, the reasons for this reform and its key elements were listed. It was noted the importance of creating a stable school organization structure, as well as the possibility of extending the period of schooling, increasing the level of education, the possibility of vocational training of students, as well as the provision of free literature. The following key points has been highlighted regarding the changes in universities: disciplines will not be assessed separately for subjects, but the university as a whole, a new body will be introduced in the structure of the university — the university council; in 4 years or on the personal initiative of the rector.

Ingo Richter, Honorary Professor at the University of Tuebingen and Paris Nanterre University, Chairman of the Irmgard-Coninx-Foundation, presented the report "The future relevancy of the subsidiarity principles in the education sphere in the broad Europe". The report referred to multilevel governance in education, state and institutional levels on the example of Switzerland, Germany, France and Spain, as well as the possibility of applying the principles of subsidiarity in these countries. As issues of concern were identified: the level of teaching (on the example of Switzerland and Spain) and the availability of universities (on the example of Germany and France). It has been noted that the use and effectiveness of subsidiarity depends on whether it is enshrined in the Constitution or whether it exists legally.

On November 13, 2018, in the framework of the international scientific conference "Multilevel Governance in Education: Top-Down Governance, Transfer of Authority and Regional Cooperation" a roundtable "Policies and measures to prevent and reduce poverty in education and improve education" was held.

Roelf Reyneke, Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Free State, presented the South African experience, noting material, but also “emotional” poverty at the beginning of his report. The speaker has noted that people do not have the necessary life skills and emotional stability to overcome difficult life situations. Statistics were presented reflecting the level of unemployment, the level of education in South Africa, as well as data reflecting the percentage of school attendance, the level of school absenteeism, as well as the percentage of students dropping out of school. The largest dropout rate occurs after the end of grade 10 when going to school is no longer necessary. All this clearly shows that many people in South Africa do not have a certificate of completion of school, which is a basic requirement for getting a higher education or for getting a job.

Why do kids leave school? First of all, due to the low standard of living of people: school fees, hunger, children's responsibility for housekeeping due to the death of their parents, teenage pregnancy, lack of teachers, and a low level of education quality. In connection with these problems, the Department of Education monitors the situation and tries to influence it by conducting various programs in support of state funding for schools where students do not need to pay fees or pay for food, programs are also being conducted to increase the participation of parents in the school life of children, their preparation educational plan. The main task, according to the speaker, is to work on the reduction of "emotional poverty" and the development of programs in this area, as well as the elimination from the profession of incompetent teachers who can injure students, both emotionally and physically.

Anna de Ambrosis Vigna  and  Izabela Krasnicka  told about the Polish experience. The speakers raised the issue of inclusive education and, in this connection, identified certain forms of education that represent a more individual and flexible approach to teaching children. They discussed early support for the development of children, which was aimed at stimulating the psychomotor and social development of the child, the need for such support was explained by the importance of the development of children who had any health defects at an early age. For older children and adolescents, a form of special education was discussed, also aimed at children with disabilities and physical disabilities. The main idea was to draw attention to the need for an individual approach to children with disabilities, but not only in special institutions, but also in general educational institutions. The speakers paid special attention to the financial support of children in the matter of education, especially in low-income families and children of migrants, the cost of school meals, free transport and a one-time allowance.

Professor Gracienne Lauwers presented a video version of the report on the experience of the Flemish community (Belgium). Such important factors as the level of family welfare, the level of education of parents and their direct dependence were highlighted. The study showed that a child from a wealthier family has a higher chance of successfully completing an educational institution than a child from a poor family. In this regard, in 2013, a decision was made on financial investment in education, strengthening legislation on student equality, preparing teachers for social diversity, eliminating differences in accessibility and quality of education. At this point, the following measures have been taken on this issue: at birth, each child receives money capital, as well as the accrual of education benefits as a child with special needs due to insufficient financial support for the family.

Ingo Richter and Hans-Peter Füssel spoke about the German experience, focusing on inclusive education and the education of children with special educational needs. The speakers came to the conclusion that there is a big problem with the motivation of attending school: what can influence the choice of a student in favour of attending school rather than making money for a living.

The roundtable meeting ended with a panel discussion, during which participants discussed policies and measures to prevent and reduce poverty in education and to raise the level of education.