The Genesis of Educational Inequality in Post-Soviet Russia: The State, School, Interest Groups

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: F201
Oral Presentation
Sergey KOSARETSKI , Centre for Social and Economic Development of Schools, National Research University “Higher School of Economics”, Moscow, Russia
Alla SALMINA , National Research University “Higher School of Economics”, Moscow, Russia
Irina GRUNICHEVA , Graduate School of Education, National Research University, Moscow, Russia
In this paper we focus on growing social inequality in contemporary Russia which is being fostered and reproduced by the current setting of its educational system. Particularly, we look at the impact and effects of the education policy both on the federal and the local level.

The results of the study are based on the expert survey conducted in 2013 in three regions (Moscow, the Moscow Region, the Republic of Karelia.)  The sample includes officials of the federal and regional level directly engaged in the education system reforms of 1990- early 2000s, as well as school principals.   We also conducted a content analysis of federal and region programs and legislation in the field of education in the period under review.

We discuss the restructuring of the education system on the basis of neo-liberal approach, which has become a common trend in globalization era, but we argue that its impact in Russia has had its own particularities with respect to stratification of schools (i.e. quality, resources and context) due to its institutional preconditions. To do this we reconstruct the meanings inserted by various interest groups in the process of restructuring of the education system (i.e. households, school principals, education policy makers, etc.) and set it against the formal institutional design of the reform. We show that these reforms (extension types of schools, the provision of school choice, the legalization of paid services, and rejection of affirmative action) have provided exclusive opportunities for elite groups and extremely limited opportunities for the more deprived strata of population.

Parallel to that we also discuss how the results of pioneering sociological studies in Russia and particularly their dissemination among the expert public have pushed the issue of inequality in access to quality education to become a major point in the national policy agenda in Russia.