HSE, MGSU and Prosveshcheniye to Develop New Schools Together
During the 2018 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum held last week, a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed between HSE, the Moscow State University of Civil Engineering (MGSU), and Prosveshcheniye Education Holding. As part of the agreement, the two national research universities and Russia’s largest vendor of teaching and learning aids will jointly develop best-practice design and infrastructural solutions for school premises.
Many new schools are built in Russia every year, and the demand for large buildings has been growing, but the main thing in school design and engineering is not their size, HSE Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov emphasized. As new learning formats are progressively entering the modern school perimeter, e.g., lectures, independent and team projects, etc., each such type of activity sets its own specific requirements to the layout and infrastructure design of educational space. ‘In some cases, this doesn’t necessarily mean we need to expand the premises, but the space should be organized differently,’ the HSE Rector said.
Existing schools also need to be improved, Yaroslav Kuzminov noted. There are over 40,000 schools in the country, and they cannot all be demolished and replaced by new ones at once, which means they need to be renovated. But what should this renovation include? Merely painting walls light green, as in the past? The HSE Rector believes that schools should be renovated with recent design methods; old venues should be adjusted to the new requirements, and this will not be too expensive. These renewed spaces will help reinvigorate teaching methods, and the tasks of such schools will not be limited to ‘pumping knowledge into the kids’ brains and rigorous behavior control to make sure the children ‘walk in pairs along wide corridors.’
‘The school projects should be developed jointly by spatial designers, curriculum designers, and suppliers of educational aids, including digital aids and simulators. And this is what the trilateral agreement between HSE, MGSU, and Prosveshcheniye is aimed at,’ the HSE Rector said.
MGSU Rector Andrey Volkov also believes that today’s schoolchildren should learn in a new environment that would differ drastically from what many generations of students were accustomed to. ‘Built under the latest design and construction methods, this environment should be tailored to make the most of modern instructional frameworks and educational products,’ he said, ‘That’s why we are trying to design school facilities that comply not only with today’s, but also with tomorrow’s requirements: they are mobile, transformable, and adjustable to new forms of teaching and learning.’
According to Vladimir Uzun, President of Prosveshcheniye Education Holding, investing in human capital begins with allocating adequate funding to advance up-to-date schools and big educational centres.
‘The Higher School of Economics has been into a feasibility study of this investment project, while MGSU is charged with the design and engineering scope,’ he said, ‘Our country is vast and has a wide regional diversity in terms of climatic profiles and industry focus, so we should give very careful consideration to these factors in each particular case. But anyway, all design solutions should best meet the requirements of the modern ICT education environment and the new challenges facing Russian learning & development.’