Researchers from Various Countries to Collaborate on Eradicating Educational Inequality
The HSE Institute of Education has become a founding partner of the Institute for Global Educational Opportunity, an association of universities and research centres that study educational inequality. Representatives from Russia, the U.S., Germany, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Chili gathered in Washington to reach an agreement on joint annual conferences, publications, and research.
Educational inequality is one of the key problems facing educational policy globally, said Sergey Kosaretsky, Director of the HSE Centre of Social and Economic School Development, who took part in the constitutive meeting. This issue is raised in election debates and discussed by various countries’ leaders, but there are only a few examples of truly successful programmes and projects. Furthermore, the trends are negative, with both general and educational inequality increasing globally.
International cooperation is required to discuss advanced solutions and joint developments, as well as to create joint databases and best practices. ‘Traditionally, only politicians and researchers discuss the problem of inequality. The Institute for Global Educational Opportunity also aims to attract leaders of non-profit organizations and educators’, said Kosaretsky. ‘The Institute will be independent in assessing the effectiveness of national models and projects, which will increase the authority of its recommendations’.
In his Washington report, Kosaretsky presented research conducted by the HSE Institute of Education on educational inequality in Russia, in particular on how the quality of school education depends on the particular characteristics of families and the social status of schoolchildren. Russian researchers use the same data sources and comparison methods as their international colleagues; this ensures that they have a common language for debate.
Russia’s past has proven interesting for foreign experts who study educational inequality. Examples of ‘positive discrimination’ and other measures to provide equal opportunities that were used in the Soviet Union are still relevant. However, Russia’s present is also interesting. For example, Russian children have been enjoying increasing access to preschool and supplementary education. Informal education resources for greater educational opportunities will likely be on the agenda for the next meeting held by the Institute’s founders.
For their part, Russian researchers are interested in what Russia is still lacking, Kosaretsky emphasized. For example, some countries select certain schoolchildren and schools for targeted support; teachers receive special training to work in challenging environment, including schools with children who don’t speak the local language. Being introduced to the international experience of ‘equation’ in education will help when it comes to finding the best solutions for Russia, he believes. ‘Together with leading experts from various countries, we will develop measures to promote equal opportunities in education that will be relevant for today’s social and technological development’.
Russia is currently launching a major project to expand educational opportunities for children and decrease educational inequality. This effort follows instructions issued by Russian President Vladimir Putin during the State Council in December 2015. The Federal Action Programme on Education Development includes plans to launch several projects in the near future, which are aimed at increasing the quality of education in schools that consistently show poor performance.
The next Institute for Global Educational Opportunity conference is due to take place in Russia in 2018. Among other topics, it will address the Russian experience in providing equal educational opportunities, such as projects on extended preschool and supplementary education and support for underachieving schools.