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World Bank Supports Innovative Development of Preschool Education in Russia

May 21, 2013

On May 21, 2013 the World Bank Moscow Office brought together more than 35 practitioners—international and Russian experts, early childhood development specialists, architects and a foundation for contemporary art “Winzavod”, representatives from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), civil society organizations, as well as Russian ministries and agencies in charge of shaping a regulatory environment for preschool education—for an international workshop titled New Kindergartens: Pedagogical Approaches, Economic Effectiveness, and Energy Efficiency—Best International Practice of Inter-Ministerial Cooperation on Regulation.

The purpose of the workshop was to launch an inter-ministerial dialog and provide an opportunity to learn from such countries as Finland, Denmark, Great Britain, Slovenia, and France about their experience in regulating preschool education.

Addressing the workshop, Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of the Russian Federation Olga Golodets pointed out that “the overall cost of the preschool education program for the next three years is over and above one trillion Russian rubles. What is critical is that besides providing better access to education, it assumes quality changes. The program is also closely intertwined with the professional development of educators, as one of its core pillars focuses on training and re-training of preschool education specialists.”

“We have made great strides in changing the remuneration system of preschool educators,” Ms. Golodets stressed. “What is important for us now is to make sure that the quality requirements for teaching go hand in hand with the remuneration system, which is effectively an extension of the preschool education program.”

The workshop is part of the World Bank’s preschool education technical assistance program in Russia. The technical assistance program implies conducting several workshops to discuss cutting-edge approaches to regulation of preschool education to advance innovations.  Given the sweeping initiatives to develop the preschool education sector across all Russian regions, the World Bank’s program seeks to support the efforts of the Russian Government in this area.

“Our goal was to arrange a high-level event so that the majority of experts on regulatory aspects of preschool education could meet and look at the Russian system through the prism of the best international practice,” said Michal Rutkowski, World Bank Russia Country Director and Resident Representative.  "The success of preschool education—especially at an early age—hinges on inter-ministerial cooperation. In international practice, government efforts in this area are called early childhood development, with the inter-ministerial dialog becoming a crucial element as it can facilitate better service delivery, with the child placed at the center of the agenda. The social sector plays an instrumental role. The role of architects, security experts and professionals from other economic sectors is, however, no less important as they are also integrated in the efforts to broaden education coverage. We hope that this discussion would help Russian policymakers, experts and practitioners to join forces in working out the most effective ways of enhancing coverage of preschool education services. We also hope that Russian children could get access to modern, beautiful and effective kindergartens."

A professional dialog on early childhood development and preschool education that has been ongoing for the past several years, points to the need to renew the regulatory framework for preschool facilities. During this time, Russia has been consistently improving its regulatory environment, which has translated in the renewed SanPin (sanitary norms and regulations) requirements and the design of preschool education standards.  Such efforts create opportunities for innovation. Also, the application of new infrastructure technologies and approaches to the regulation increases the return on current investments in preschool education, on the one hand, and helps put in place modern conditions for childhood development in Russia, on the other.

These efforts must be continued so as to build a sustainable foundation to develop preschool education and advance innovations in Russian early childhood education.

Building on the outputs of the plenary session and knowledge exchange among experts during the workshop, the delegates drafted a number of recommendations, inter alia, to assemble an inter-ministerial council on preschool education development, and identify regions to pilot-test the approaches to develop a modern preschool education architecture and regulatory practices.