The Russian Federation
Basic overview of the way that the country´s Adult Education system is organised, what kind of overall structure there is in place (if any), and which departments or organisations are part of this system.
Overall, adult education cannot really be characterised as being within a system: organizations and institutions involved in adult education are often fragmented and do not readily cooperate and interact, often considering each other as competitors rather than partners. Nevertheless, one can identify components of Adult Education, such as Vocational Further Education (VFE), sectorial and inter-company training, and secondary and secondary specialized vocational educational institutions.
Characterizing the overall range of educational institutions, one can say that it is distinguished by:
• A predominance of vocational further education. In the educational services market, there is a clear trend towards broadening the range of business training offers and there is quite a broad range of offers in brand management, use of advertising, effective operation of distribution channels, personnel motivation, coaching and manufacturing process maintenance, team-building, etc.
• Diverse forms and ways of training organization (from traditional and conservative to flexible and mobile).
• The need to ensure the quality of services, which has not yet been worked out on a national basis. (Each organization can determine its own quality criteria and how it is reflected in the training process).
• Different levels of technical and information status.
• Driving for a rapid response to changes in needs, a willingness to revise offers and tailor them to a specific client, readiness to negotiate and, in a way, social partnership with business entities, employers, and government authorities.
• A continuous and intensive search for specialists in andragogy, knowledgeable not only about the subject-matter of training but also didactics, and ways of interaction with an adult audience.
• It should also be noted that despite the lack of a legislative basis, non-formal education practices are gradually expanding, with an emphasis on the increasing number of educational opportunities for pensioners in different regions of Russia.
Key Providers/Main institutions/Sources for Adult Education
List of key organisations and institutions within categories based on different forms of Adult Education, including a short description of each.
Non-formal Adult Education is represented by training courses for adults in diverse topics that meet the various individual educational needs of citizens. There is a wide range of education on offer in non-formal education, namely within:
• Universities for the elderly, where pensioners can acquire knowledge in various areas (health-related courses, handicrafts, psychological training, and creative workshops)
• Amateur/creative associations of adults at cultural institutions (culture palaces and centres, museums, philharmonics)
• „Znanie" (knowledge) society auditoriums, and
• Leisure centres for disabled people
Acquiring knowledge of the arts, the opportunity to communicate, being united by common interests and mastering practical skills ensure a better quality of life. In this context, involvement in the educational activities of disadvantaged groups or adults who for any reason find themselves in a difficult situation is of particular importance. More specifically, pensioners who have been trained at "lifelong education centres" or at the „Znanie" society, list among the results of their training: better health status, improved emotional state, positive changes in relations with their relatives and the ability to make friends with their peers. They also note improved self-esteem, social activity, willingness to cooperate and communicate. Moreover, it makes no difference what course they have taken - computer competence, foreign languages, physiotherapy, "personal finance management", choral studio or a "biographical workshop".
Along with organisations implementing educational activities in practice, the issues associated with adult education are addressed by social services (which organise leisure activities and support re-socialization), research institutes and centres (which develop theoretical aspects of AE), and culture institutions (that help meet various needs of adults contributing to their self-actualization and communication).
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
Non-profit non-governmental organizations (NGOs), have been actively developing in recent decades in the Russian Federation. Initially, most NGOs were mainly aimed at addressing a set of social issues and reflected people´s willingness to improve social standards - at least in some areas (environment, politics, social institutions development, status of disadvantaged groups, etc.), however these socially oriented activities moved progressively closer to education. In fact, organisation of round tables, preparation of publications, and conducting various campaigns, as well as training of their own personnel and setting up educational programs for target groups transformed NGOs into institutions implementing professional socially-oriented educational activities.
- The Association of Regional Nongovernmental Educational Organizations. This association states as its primary goal the "urgent correction of the legal framework of non-government education both at federal and regional levels", and declares that reform is needed for all forms of education including children, secondary and higher education.
- The All-Russia Movement "Education for All" is directed toward the struggle for equality and exercising of civil rights in the widest sense. It seeks to establish (and reconstruct) the publicly available and free preschool education system, the compulsory and free full secondary education system, and make it possible to obtain basic or secondary vocational education at any age. It also seeks development and approval of the special government program "Lifelong Education", and the establishment of a system of supplementary social protection during training of low income groups, orphans, disabled persons and the rural population. The fact that these institutions have emerged suggests that society is gradually becoming more aware of these issues, however the realisation of these goals is still seen to be unlikely in the near future.
Vocational Institutions and career-related training
In general, it should be noted that conservatism is typical of state vocational AE institutions. Characteristics of adult trainees, their life and professional experience are rarely taken into account, which somewhat reflects the higher education or school system, where learning is almost always classroom and desk based, with a formal system of tests, examinations, and course work.
The Vocational sector can be divided into various kinds of provision:
- Sectorial and inter-company training centres (sectorial training centres, training and course centres, advanced training courses, etc.), which are subordinate to federal ministries and agencies. In this respect, the most active actors are the Ministry of Education (over half of the total number of trainees), and professional development institutions of the Ministry of Health. The advanced training and retraining institutions under ministries of agriculture, transport and energy are preserved as well.
- Secondary and secondary specialized vocational educational institutions (technical schools, lyceums, colleges, and vocational-technical schools), as well as higher educational establishments (institutes, academies, and universities), which provide training and retraining for managerial, engineering and technical personnel. The official statistics suggest that Russia has over two thousands state educational institutions implementing vocational further education programs.
- Commercial vocational educational institutions. Since their primary objective is to make a profit, these institutions work to clients´ needs and produce products which are in demand in the educational services market. Most popular are language courses, courses in mastering various software, programs for accountants and economists, various compensation programs (personal growth and development schools, courses in public speaking, etc.), application-oriented occupations and professions - hair stylist, masseuse, administrative assistant, etc. The quality of those services cannot be assessed here; however often their activities are subjected to severe criticism (in the mass media, the Internet and by users of educational services).
Universities and Distance Learning
Distance learning (DL), which was initiated in Russia as a pilot project, has made a breakthrough over the past decade. New regulatory documents, which legalize DL methods to a considerable extent, have been developed and put into practice. "The Methodology of Distance Learning Organization at Higher Vocational Educational Institutions in the Russian Federation" has been prepared, and a number of draft industry-specific standards have been developed. Heads of several higher educational institutions participating in the pilot project were granted the government award for development of scientific-methodological and organizational-technological fundamentals of the federal university distance learning network. However, distance learning still lacks a solid legal framework (laws and standards on higher education cannot be used to address issues and legalize DL), communication channels are far from perfect, and methodological and educational aids have different formats, which makes it difficult to use them.
Distance learning (DL) has begun to be implemented as a "substructure" of higher education, and has been introduced into higher educational institutions, both at a state and non-state level.
Those considered as leaders in the field include, International Management Institute LINK, Moscow State Industrial University, All-Russian Distance Learning Institute of Finance and Economics, and the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia. Within the period of their operation, they have collectively established around 588 training centres (affiliates), employing thousands of teachers, tutors and teachers-technologists. Currently, through the Internet, hundreds of training courses are offered to adults in various areas (training in PC software, management and quality of project implementation; skills in memory development, writing and even musical training). However it is important to note that this training is not accessible to everyone: both from the fact that the training requires advanced computer equipment and internet access, and also because courses can cost up to 800-1,000 euros.
With kind permission this report is entirely taken from Olga Agapova´s document ‘Adult Education in the Russian Federation´, as published in Uwe Gartenschlaeger (Ed.), 2009, International Perspectives in Adult Education - IPE 63: European Adult Education outside the EU, published by theInstitut für Internationale Zusammenarbeit des Deutschen Volkshochschul-Verbandes dvv international in Cooperation with the European Adult Education Association EAEA. Some of the language in the text has been edited or altered for the purpose of this report, however all content remains the work of the original author.