№33. Conference “To overcome stagnation: the potential of Russian education, science and culture”

Published: March 31st, 2017

Education, science, engineering and artistic creativity determine the development of the individual, the social and technological progress of society. Until recently, our country was famous for them all over the world. Nevertheless, for more than 20 years the policy of the Russian authorities in the fields of education, science, culture, and industrial production has led to the degradation of man and society, and has been hindering the country's economic development. How to find the exit and resources?

The conference "Overcome Stagnation: the Potential of Education, Science, and Culture of Russia" was devoted to the search for answers to this provocative question. The moderators of the discussion were the candidate of economic sciences, associate professor Natalia Yakovleva, the chairman of the professional association "RKK-Science", the senior researcher of IRE them. Kotelnikov RAS Anatoly Mironov and Professor SZNIESKH RAS David Epstein.

Opening the discussion, Natalia Yakovleva described key reasons for the stagnation of science and education in the last 25 years: commercialization and the accompanying bureaucratization of the education system. These processes were accompanied by the disappearance of state planning and the intensification of sometimes-rampant control by the Ministry of Education and the Federal Service for the Supervision of the Environment. The most terrible thing, according to the economist, is the so-called education management, in which the principal person becomes not the teacher-scientist, but the administrator filling out the reports. "We forgot the three components on which education in the USSR was kept: free, universal and fundamental. We have lost it forever. Moreover, if we do not fight now, after a while our children and grandchildren will be slaves to capitalism, and we will not work in creative, free collectives, but in formalized, bureaucratic, rigid structures, "Yakovleva stressed.

A guest from Kaluga, Ph.D. in Psychology Elena Klimova focused her attention on the shortage of educational institutions of primary and secondary vocational education, which generates a shortage of qualified personnel. In her opinion, universities should finalize the bachelor's degree to a specialty level, and what now includes a bachelor's degree is transferred to the level of secondary vocational education. The amendments proposed by the speaker to the law on education sound as follows: "Leave: 1) primary vocational education, 2) secondary vocational education, bachelor's degree, 3) higher education, specialty, magistracy, 4) postgraduate professional education,

The representative of the trade union of workers of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Mikhail Mitrofanov, turned to the topic of science, stating the incorrectness of the existing strategy of scientific and technological development of Russia. Proposals, which he voiced, concern the protection of the work of scientific collectives and scientific workers. "It is necessary to ensure legal mechanisms for ensuring that the minimum required government spending on basic research is recorded in terms of implementation of the strategy. It is necessary that these expenditures of basic research go, including labor remuneration, fixed rates employed by fundamental research of workers," the academician noted.

Mitrofanov's colleague, David Epstein, complained about the aggravated situation with the choice of the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the threat of the reorientation of the RAS from fundamental science towards the introduction of scientific research. Science, according to Epstein, should have a greater degree of self-government, which is reflected in the alternative concept of the law on science prepared by the RAS representatives. The employee of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the teacher Irina Selezneva, supported him. She added that working groups of ministries discussing draft strategies and other documents do not take into account the views of professional communities.

Economist Alexander Buzgalin reminded the audience of the existing vector of development of science around the world - the so-called industry 4.0, which implies that a person does creative work and everything else, does the machine. "This is another socio-economic system, so the conversation about education as a service, education as a production of skills, education as the production of qualifications - this is yesterday," he stressed. According to Buzgalin, the future society should consist of creative people, and not from low-skilled personnel serving as an "appendage" to machine tools.

One of the key ideas of the conference was the change of orientation in assessing the level of development of the country and its positioning in the international arena. Global rivalry is shifting from the field of finance, industry and military technology to education, science, culture, and upbringing. Today, knowledge and morality act as conditions for social progress, as a key prerequisite for social self-reflection.

Concluding the discussion, Anatoly Mironov expressed his conviction that the Government is not in a position to offer the strategy that the people need. At the same time, scientists, business, as well as active youth and the public could make a serious contribution to the formation of such a vision. He called on the participants to take part in the discussion of this strategy within the forum and beyond.