By the quality of education, the metropolis is one of the ten megacities of the most developed countries of the world. Russia’s entrance in the ranking of the leading countries of the world was Vladimir Putin’s one of the priority commands set during his inauguration. How can the experience of the metropolis be used in other Russian regions? What innovations is Moscow's education system carrying out in the near future? This and many other topics were discussed during a "Business Breakfast" in "RG" with the Minister of the Government of Moscow, the Head of the Moscow City Department of Education Isaac Kalina.
Isaac Iosifovich! More than three years have passed since the consolidation of schools has ended. Many spears were broken. Can we now conclude the economic impact on Moscow of this reformation?
Isaac Kalina: I want to state right away that throughout the process of uniting schools into complexes we were solving mainly educational and pedagogical tasks, while economic ones were not set at all. For seven years, the government has been financing schools according to the single parameter - the number of students. This implies that the expenses of the city's education system are entirely independent of the number of schools there is in Moscow. When it comes to the economic influence of consolidation, we should ask impact on whom? For school faculty, the effect turned out to be very significant. While in 2010 the expenses of administration personnel amounted for 20 % of the wage remuneration fund, it does not exceed 4 % today. There has been a redistribution of budget funds from school administration and officials to teachers, which is exceptionally important. Thankfully to this trend, teacher's wages have been increasing in the metropolis for the last seven years. During 2011 and 2012, wages were primarily increased by nearly 60 % through expanded city's funding to the industry. Later schools became cost-effective. The board and teachers know that no one will take away the allocated money from them, yet also no one will give the excess amount. Therefore they have to work thriftier and more efficiently, which is exactly what they do. Another instance is utility tariffs. It has been increasing by nearly 70 % over the past seven years, while utility costs per student in Moscow have decreased by 5 % throughout that time. Saved money is invested in teacher’s wages and the development of a strong educational process.
Only 30 % of teachers from other regions pass the assessment to work in Moscow schools.
And what is the average teacher's wage now?
Isaac Kalina: We prefer to consider the decyl coefficient. It is the ratio of the average wage of 10 % of the highest-paid to 10 % of the lowest-paid employees. Moreover, we link the principal's wage formula, not to the average salary, but the average wage of 50 % of the least paid teachers within the school. There is no doubt that differentiation in wages is necessary if we want to progress; however, as physics states, if the potential difference exceeds the resistance of the circuit, a short circuit occurs. Therefore, this difference must not cause sharp social tension.
Today the differentiation in wages has become much smaller. Since 2017 the vast majority of full-time teachers receives at least 64 thousand rubles per month. In 2018, the principals were directed to increase this mark to at least 68 thousand rubles.
Talking about the average wage of the teacher, in 2017 it amounted to 86 thousand rubles; in the first quarter of 2018, it was approximately 89 thousand rubles. At the same time, we must remember that in the first quarter there are February 23 and March 8, so there are holiday bonuses. Consequently, it is questionable that the first quarter can be considered entirely indicative. I want to remind you that in 2010, the average wage of the metropolis teacher was 39 thousand rubles.
Does this amount include the wages of school principals?
Isaac Kalina: Neither the salary of principals or officials of the Department of Education has anything to do with the estimation of the average teacher's wage.
And how much do the principals receive?
Isaac Kalina: The average wage of the principal is roughly three times higher than the average salary of the teacher. At the same time, the formula which is used to calculate the wage of Moscow's school principal is accessible to everyone. It is posted on the website "School of the Big City" (school.moscow).
The average wage of a teacher in the first quarter of 2018 in Moscow was 89 thousand rubles. The salary of a principal was three times higher.
At one time in Moscow, there was a shortage of teachers. Has it changed?
Isaac Kalina: There is no shortage, but vacancies emerge. Luckily for Moscow and misfortunately for neighboring regions, the difference in wages is such that we had to introduce assessment for teachers who want to move to the metropolis. The teacher is asked to take a Russian State Exam, and the teacher of primary school must take interdisciplinary monitoring. The Center for Independent Diagnostics and the Moscow Center for Quality of Education provide these assessments.
And what are the results of assessment?
Isaac Kalina: there is only 30 % of those who pass successfully. The competition is only among the strongest.
And how did the students and parents benefit from the unification?
Isaac Kalina: Every Moscow family has a unique chance to choose the path of education for their child. And this can be arranged within one school, which few educational institutions around the world can provide. The amount of directions from that the student can pick from has increased. If it is a specialized education, a student can choose between in-depth learning of mathematics, literature, economics, and foreign language. Pre-professional education is cadet, medical, engineering, and academic classes. Supplementary training permits to improve the creative skills of the child: singing, dancing, painting, etc. This wide choice of disciplines transpires throughout Moscow. If in 2010 there were only 1 % of schools with more than three different profile orientations, now there are no schools that have fewer. Many have four or five profile orientations. Why is it important? For instance, a child enrolled in the cadet class and studied there for two years. Then he realized he wanted to be an engineer and not a military man. To switch to another field within the same school is very simple; however, if it were two different institutions, it could have been a challenge. This is the fundamental social and pedagogical effect of the unification of schools, which is just becoming visible.
You mentioned supplementary education. Yes, most schools do have a theatre club, Chinese club, and many others. However, often most classes are offered on a fee basis. Is there any minimum amount of extracurricular activities that is carried out free of charge? Also is the ratio between paid and free supplementary education regulated by any document or is it all given to the principal of the school?
Isaac Kalina: There is a proclamation of the President of Russia, which explicitly states that 75 % of children should be covered by supplementary education. At least half of this quantity is required to be on a budgetary foundation. In Moscow, about 76 % of supplementary sessions are covered by the city's budget, and parents themselves pay only the remaining 24 %. Though I want to note that Moscow parents do not thrift money on their children and pay much more significant amounts not to state institutions but to private ones for different clubs, workshops, etc. Today, the demand of Moscow parents for educational courses is much higher than the supply that public school offers; even though we have a considerable capital complex and great material support. Presumably, under such conditions, public schools should triumph over private organizations, but sadly, we are losing...
Do you aim to win this competition?
Isaac Kalina: In the future, perhaps. Now there are more critical tasks. First of all, we need to ensure the highest quality of general education, higher results on the Russian State Exam, Olympiads... Let me mention that until 2009, Moscow had a unique position. We did not yet participate in the Russian State Exam. To tell the truth, in the metropolis, where there are hundreds of universities, it was much simpler to find a dean who could assist your child become a student. He could be your neighbor or your friend. Or it was possible to find a helpful person through advertisement: "mathematics training for university admission," and a particular university was mentioned. So it is obvious why the Moscow community, both professional and parental, was not very pleased with the possibility of entering a sole state exam.
Indeed, after the implementation of the Russian State Exam, the admission of Moscow graduates to prestigious metropolis universities to budgetary places declined distinctly. They started to lose to the strongest graduates from the regions. The brightest graduates of all Russia were coming to Moscow! This was a severe stroke to the budget of Moscow families. They had to pay for their tuition.
What has happened over the past seven years due to those changes? The number of children who obtain a competitive score of 250 points on the Russian State Exam for admission to leading universities in Moscow has increased from 1.6 thousand in 2010 to 7.5 thousand in 2017. The number of Olympiads winners who earned the advantage to receive free education without examinations has also increased from 278 to 817. This year, I am sure the numbers will be higher.
Has the share of university admission to free of tuition spots increased?
Isaac Kalina: Yes, in MIPT, for example, it has increased from 7 % to 25 %. In Sechenov University the increase was from 10 % to 30 %. This happened in the leading universities of the country! Moscow graduates became competitive with the strongest graduates from all over Russia.
It is May. The Russian State Exam period is coming. Are there any changes expected in it?
Isaac Kalina: The procedure of taking the Russian State Exam is determined on the federal level, and, as far as I know, nothing extra is expected. In recent years, the essay has been added as permission to take Russian State Exam in the 11th grade. But Muscovites were ready for it since Moscow proposed to write such an essay back in 2014. In addition, mathematics has been split into primary and profile, thanks to the Mayor of Moscow, who allowed our students to take primary mathematics in the 10th grade. It offloads them the 11th grade when there are numerous examinations. This year, for instance, 18 thousand students will be taking the primary level test.
Is it true that more graduates are choosing to take the Russian State Exam in exact sciences?
Isaac Kalina: It is true. However, to me, as a teacher of mathematics, it would be desirable that the percentage of children who take an exam in physics, computer science, and chemistry, would increase quicker. It is important to mention that the results of the students who take these examinations have improved. I assume it occurs mainly because graduates of engineering and medical classes take these tests. Afterward, they must take a pre-professional exam, which is given by the university and the inter-university committee. Many Moscow universities voluntarily grant ten additional points to the Russian State Exam score for successful passing of the pre-professional examination. They do not have the freedom to award additional bonuses, although the Board of Rectors is in favor of extending the rewards. Such a proposal was made at a meeting with the President by our "Teacher of the Year" Ivan Smirnov which was received with support.
We approached the conversation about so-called pre-professional education. Are such classes in high demand?
Isaac Kalina: Many want to study in those classes. We do not wish those classes to become something mutilated with a big name while there's nothing unique in them. We realize that each pre-professional class can give the demanded result only through a triple union: school-university-enterprise. The school should train teachers and provide the required equipment. The vital funds have been provided for its purchase by the Government of Moscow. Universities are also affected by such classes. For instance, medical universities are interested in admitting not just graduates who have high grades in chemistry and biology, but the applicants who have already been to the clinic multiple times. Hence, they have already engaged in the field. Such children have less probability that of realization that medicine is not the right path for them by their sophomore year. So students would not lose two years, and the Department of Healthcare will not obtain a doctor who is not interested in treating patients. Clinics have their gain because they get a graduate with practical skills. The Department of Healthcare elects medical institutions that gladly admit students from medical classes. There are no problems with scientific organizations for academic classes either.
There are still challenges with high-tech enterprises. There are not many willing to allow students from engineering classes into their companies. But the Department of Science, Industrial Policy and Entrepreneurship is also seeking to assist us. I hope, gradually the groundwork for cooperation with schools will expand.
How many children from pre-professional classes come to study in that field? Is there any statistics on that?
Isaac Kalina: About 70% come. Let’s admit that 30 % of those who changed their minds is also a very important result. I always say that pre-professional classes are needed for a student to realize he made a mistake as early as possible and change the course of action. Life forgives the mistakes we make in school, but not in adulthood.
It is a lesson for all
When the project "Moscow Electronic School" was launched, in the government promised significant bonuses to content developers. And it doesn't matter who the author is. So do you actually pay them?
Isaac Kalina: Yes, already nearly 200 teachers earned a grant for the development of electronic scenarios of the lesson. Each grant is 100 thousand rubles. By the way, the math teacher from 1571 school, who is also a mother of three, has already received three grants. But I will remark: grants are awarded not just for the development of a scenario, but to those authors whose scripts were used by more teachers during the lessons. They don't need to use the complete script but can choose specific elements. The Department of Information Technology handles grants for more technically complex resources. Teachers do this less often than the developers of electronic resources.
Where can I find all these projects?
Isaac Kalina: On the mos.ru in the section of MES and on the website "School of the Big City."
Can metropolis schools take full advantage of MES products? Do they have enough equipment to do that?
Isaac Kalina: Our educational complexes received the first large supply of computer equipment under the command of the Mayor in 2012 and 2013. They received interactive boards, laptops for teachers, etc. The equipment is still in operating condition. However, over the years, the content of our schools has grown, and the equipment has begun to become out-of-date. Therefore, we purchased new ones of the next generation. The modern classroom board is a large tablet with Internet access, a large image easily seen from any part of the classroom. Teachers receive new laptops. Half of the schools have been provided already with innovative equipment. By the end of 2018, the second half will receive it as well.
The Department of Information Technology handles the supplies. This is essential since everything our children use to learn today should integrate with whatever doctors, libraries, and overall urban economy use. Moscow is operating under a unified information society policy, so individual projects become part of the Smart City.
Saving on a homeroom teacher is a crime
Is school safety also provided with digital equipment?
Isaac Kalina: Only partially. More than 40 thousand cameras are installed in the buildings of educational complexes. Seventeen thousands of those are connected to a single city video surveillance system. CHOPs (Private Security Company) have support groups, which are ready, if it is necessary, to come to the place of emergency fully equipped. The attitude of the security personnel working in schools has also shifted completely. We achieved this with the cooperation of the interdepartmental committee for integrated security established in Moscow. It includes representatives of the City Department of regional security, representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and now National Guard of Russia. As a result, there is a substantial model of a security guard working at school. It is very different from the person guarding, say, the shop. Hence, the issue of protecting the outer circuit of the school has been successfully solved.
However, ensuring the inner security of the school turned out to be a much more complicated task. In my opinion, here a lot depends on the work of teachers. I am convinced it is the teacher who is a spot of entry the school, that "portal" for any child. And if this portal is set friendly, it can relieve any tension from a child right at the entrance. But for this to happen, the teacher must have both time and desire. And it is unlikely to occur if the staff is paid only 1000 rubles like in some regions, according to the media. I don't understand administrators who save on their teachers. This is a hazardous type of saving. In many Moscow schools, teachers receive extra 13 thousand rubles. Otherwise, it is hard to assume that they will strive to be not just influential educators, but to try and get to know every student closely. And if there were ten more psychologists at school, things wouldn't be safer.
In a modern Moscow school, can a principal fire an inefficient teacher?
Isaac Kalina: The bad principal will not be able, but a good one will; and completely legally through the assessment of work. It's in the competence of the school.
To those who criticize their children, I wouldn’t advise doing it. They're just different
There is another issue: the authority of the teacher is lower now than during the times when the parents and grandparents of current students were in school... This prevents them from solving the child's problems.
Isaac Kalina: I would say it differently: nowadays, parents of schoolchildren do not have enough respect for the teacher. And that's understandable. Fifty years ago, the level of education of the teacher was about two times greater than of the average parent. Today there is another situation, especially in Moscow. For each child, there are at least three university diplomas of parents and grandparents. And often they will also hold the Ph.D., although Ph.D. candidates among young teachers also appear. Nonetheless, there is no significant difference in the level of education. There is no advantage of the teacher, so no one respects them enough. It's time for the teachers to accept it and build relationships on a different basis. Plus, parents should realize that even the best teacher in the world cannot replace them when raising a child. The teacher is only a partner to parents, but not a replacement. And if someone attempts to make a faculty member responsible for their child's behavior, it's also a mistake. It is a mistake when a teacher tries to tell parents what their child should be instead of working with a particular student.
Schools have parental committees. Do they help solve problems that arise?
Isaac Kalina: There are helpful administrative councils that include parents, teachers, and high school students. There is no solution to the problem that will satisfy all parties equally. The best approach is to determine through the administrative council session the best resolution to serves as an integrator of the interests of all participants of the educational process.
What do our children play with
According to the results of the international study, PIRLS Moscow fourth-graders were recognized as the most lettered. And it is amazing. It sometimes seems that our children now do not read at all. They play games on tablets and smartphones. Whom did they defeat?
Isaac Kalina: They aren’t just most lettered, but they took first place among 70 megacities of the world with a significant margin from their peers in Singapore, Hong Kong, Ireland, Finland, Norway, England, and others. And they showed themselves not just in the ability to put letters into words, but in the understanding and interpretation of the text. One would ask where they gained these skills. There is high-quality training in both pre-school and primary schools in Moscow. Parents and grandparents also made a significant contribution when reading with their children. I would advise against criticizing our young generation. Our children and grandchildren are just different. And that's great.
If they were identical to us, it would mean the world was still and frozen. I don't want a model of you and me to be the ultimate image of an individual in the world. I am convinced that our children and grandchildren will go way further than us. Sometimes we don't approve their actions because often we don't understand what they read, study or do. It irritates us as well as the fact that they have stopped to consider us the most significant influences in their lives. Our grandchildren are the first generation to live in a world extremely different from the world we lived in. Moreover, whether we like it or not, we need to learn to understand, accept, and to be able to live in their world, as well as to be able to learn from them.
Do you learn from grandchildren and students?
Isaac Kalina: Of course. I admit, everything I know about a computer, I learned from my children, and now grandchildren. Also, I learn to be calm and gain a sense of internal dignity from them. They are more convinced that their lives depend on themselves, not the external circumstances. Our lives were very deterministic. I remember a year of military service. The year in my life when everything was decided for me, and I didn't have to think about what time to get up, go to bed, or have lunch. But children and grandchildren are in charge of their own lives.
I'll give you another case that taught me a lot. In the 1980s, when I was a principal of the school, I once saw that my eighth graders are playing with different types of slot machines. I scolded them: instead of studying mathematics or working out, you do nonsense.
Twenty years have passed since then. In 2006 or 2007, I was introduced to the surgical device "Da Vinci". All movements of the surgeon to control this robot are the same movements with the joystick that my students were playing with twenty years ago. I do not know how, but they grasped that a game in those machines will be useful to them in the future. Since then, I told myself: observe what children play; they always play with the dream. And then one of them will execute it.
We often dream of children living in our fantasy. It's pointless. Children must and will live in a world of their dreams. Moreover, soon I hope, we will be able to live in a world of their dreams. But we have to be ready for it.