While writing my graduation thesis, I decided to tell about Russian education system. I suppose it will be better to divide these theme into several posts, because there are too much information.
Let’s start with the general information about the major institutions of the system.
The first stage of education is pre-school education represented by kindergartens which are usually attended by children aged from 3 to 7 (or 6) years. It’s not obligatory; if you want and have possibilities to stay at home with your child – it’s ok. But past experience has shown that the majority of women prefer coming back to work after a parental leave. I think the reasons are obvious.
And… it is the point where the problems begin because the number of kindergartens in Russia isn’t enough to admit all children. That’s why, after your child’s birth, you need to join a “queue” which comprises a lot of children whose parents want them to attend a kindergarten. But it won’t guarantee that your child will get a place. Those parents who despaired of sending their child to a public kindergarten may apply to a private kindergarten. It is more expensive: for a public kindergarten parents pay about 1.500 roubles ($42), for a private — 10.000 roubles ($280) and more. Some private kindergartens are organized in ordinary flats, and sometimes don’t even possess a licence to carry out educational activities, they are called “home kindergartens”. The development of such organizations was a reaction to parents’ problems which weren’t solved by the government.
Children start school at the age of 7. The school education in our country is divided into 3 levels: elementary (=primary) school, 1-4 grades; secondary school, 5-9 grades; high school, 10-11 grades.
Children may leave school after 9th grade and enter either professional technical school (the lowest level of post-school education) or secondary specialized college (the level a bit higher). On graduation from these institutions one has basic professional knowledge and may get a job or continue education: at university after a secondary specialized college, or at college after a professional technical school. Anyway, these institutions are not prestigious in our country, so to get a good job in a company you should get higher education.
Leaving school after the 11th grade, children take the final state exams (at least 3) and use received marks to enter a university. But there exist a category of young people who enter secondary specialized colleges even after 11th grade. It seems strange to me.
University. Formerly, Russians studied at university 5 years and after graduation they were awarded specialist degree. During their education students studied general and special subjects, and undertook an internship. Having earned the specialist degree, they could enter a postgraduate program and be awarded the Candidate of Science degree (this program is called Aspirantura, you should not confuse it with Master or Ph.D. programs because they are not equivalent: aspirantura is something between Master & Ph.D. programs, but according to Bologna Process, it’s common to equate Ph.D. to Russian Candidate of Science degree). At universities, the majority of lecturers and tutors should have the degree of Candidate of Science.
After implementation of Bologna Process model, the majority of universities gradually started to introduce new programs allowing students to earn Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. But, anyway, the specialist degree still exists.