Russia pins its hopes on allies

May 17, 2002

One of the key architects of Russia's education modernisation programme has called for international cooperation for reform to step up a level.

Viktor Bolotov, Russia's first deputy minister of education, speaking at a Prague conference on the integration of educational reform strategies in eastern Europe, said the days of "isolated one-year projects" were over.

The future of educational reform partnerships between donors and the transitional economy countries of the region was in integrated, strategic reforms, he said.

Long-term, sustainable projects that drew on the experience of educational, training and cultural organisations working with countries in eastern Europe would achieve more and better concentrated resources, he told the British Council-organised conference.

"In Russia we have a very successful pattern of cooperation with western experts," Mr Bolotov said.

Pooling the experience and resources of donor organisations such as the Council of Europe and the European Union in long-term projects to assist in national educational strategies could help lift reforms in the field throughout eastern Europe to a new level of integration and purpose, he said.

Among the priorities for reform in Russia were re-forging links between higher education and industry. Educational partnerships involving western companies and Russian institutions had, in the past, drawn criticism, he noted. But with recent improvements in the Russian economy - which grew last year by 8 per cent, domestic links between universities and firms were increasing.

Encouraging universities to develop more strategic curricula was also on the agenda.

The days of fulfiling the "wild expectations" of Russian undergraduates for courses in economics, law and other popular specialities were over.

"We need graduates trained in modern engineering, information technology, medicine - particularly doctors for rural areas. Universities have to readjust to the demands of lifelong learning," Mr Bolotov said.

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