Russian Federation

Galina Kovaleva
Klara Krasnianskaia
Center for Evaluating the Quality of Education, Institute of Strategy of Education Development
Ministry of Education and Science

Overview of Education System

According to the federal law On Education in the Russian Federation, passed in 2012, the government guarantees citizens of the Russian Federation free general education and free vocational education on a competitive basis at state and municipal educational institutions.

According to this law, federal authorities are responsible for the development and implementation of unified educational policy, regional authorities are responsible for the development and implementation of regional programs, and local authorities are responsible for the organization of education at different levels according to federal education standards. Federal education authorities create federal policy, oversee its implementation, and develop the legislative basis for the functioning of the education system. Furthermore, federal authorities establish federal and state educational standards, and develop model curricula and model programs of study for school subjects on the basis of these standards. Federal authorities also oversee expert review of textbooks and supplementary literature for schools.1

The public system of education comprises general education at the preprimary, primary, basic, and upper secondary levels, and vocational education at the secondary, higher, and postgraduate levels. General education (Grades 1 to 11) is compulsory according to the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

Preprimary education is for children ages 2 months to 6 years and 6 months, and is not compulsory. In 2014, preprimary education was provided in 51,000 preprimary institutions serving 6.8 million children. Because of a significant increase in the birth rate over the last five years and an insufficient number of kindergartens, new types of institutions have been established, such as family kindergartens.

Primary general education consists of Grades 1 to 4 and may be provided in primary schools, in basic schools that include the primary stage, and in secondary education institutions that include all three stages. Basic general education or lower secondary education consists of Grades 5 to 9, while secondary general or upper secondary education consists of Grades 10 and 11. Because general education is compulsory, students who finish basic school (Grade 9) and wish to attend vocational school will study general education subjects (equivalent to Grades 10 and 11, but at a basic level) as well as vocational education subjects and skills.

Approximately 99 percent of all primary, basic, and secondary schools in Russia are public-municipal, meaning that the municipal budget is the school’s main source of financing and that many decisions are made at the regional level. In 2014, there were 43,200 public-municipal schools serving 14.09 million students in Russia. In 2014, there were approximately 800 nonpublic general education institutions that served approximately 100,000 students only.2

In the last decade the main innovations in general education comprise the following:

  • Federal State Educational Standards were introduced in 2011 for primary schools and in 2015 for basic schools, emphasizing requirements that pertain to curriculum structure, to student achievement in personal, metacognitive, and academic subject domains, and to conditions for curriculum implementation. The requirements that pertain to student achievement can be considered competence-based.
  • A national system of independent national examinations was created in 2009, known as the Unified State Examination.
  • An independent system for evaluating the quality of education was introduced, aiming to facilitate independent school assessment by allowing any independent organization (i.e., public organizations, parents, schools, educational authorities, etc.) to initiate the evaluation process. The Ministry of Education and Science developed special recommendations for conducting independent evaluations and using the results.

In accordance with the new law on education, two main documents were developed to regulate general education at all stages (primary, basic, and secondary): the Federal State Educational Standards and the Model Basic Educational Program.

Languages of Instruction

Russian is the official language of the Russian Federation. In the majority of schools (more than 95 percent), Russian is the language of instruction for all subjects, including mathematics and science in fourth and eighth grades. However, some students receive instruction in one of the country’s national ethnic group languages; at present, 39 languages are used as languages of instruction.