In 2000 the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences began an initiative to establish the Center for Educational Policy Studies (CEPS) (now the Faculty of Educational Management).
The general goal of the faculty is to assist in the Russian education system’s modernization. It is reached through training specialists in the key spheres of practice and education, and foremost in the sphere of education policy. The aim of the faculty is to create a pool of highly skilled analysts and experts who are able to analyze and shape the educational policy of their own regions – as well as those of the whole country.
Studying at the Educational Management Faculty includes the following: 1. Courses covering the broad variety of issues, which influence and connect with educational policy, create conditions for advancing the program participants in modern approaches to educational policy and mastering their systematic knowledge in this sphere. The workshops given by scholars and other outstanding figures working in the sphere of education, as well as lectures, are to assist in achieving this aim.
2. Courses on methodology of social studies, case-study technologies, problem-solving, participation in professional work and research projects promote the program’s participants to consider their experience and, moreover, to develop skills of studying and analyzing, thereby forming educational policy in the region.
3. Courses in social project planning, and the corresponding work upon their practice-oriented projects, develop project-planning and management skills.
4. Courses and trainings covering modern education technologies and intensive teaching techniques shape the understanding of how one can pass on his knowledge and skills. A number of tutors in this sphere are supposed to be trained in every group so that they can work with the following course participants and their colleagues throughout the country.
History The Center opened its doors for the first time as a part of the Summer School in June of 2002. On the 15th—16th of February, 2004, the first conference titled “Trends in Education Development” was held as a learning event for CEPS students. It enumerated 130 participants from 9 countries. This conference has already become a tradition and in 2009 it attracted the attention of as many as 300 participants from 11 countries to the subject “Twenty Years of Education Reforms?” Since the Center’s opening, its experts and students have created a unique education program which is still unparalleled in Russia.
The program involved the most-accomplished experts in their spheres as researchers and readers. During its preparation and utilization, educational materials in teaching courses were developed and published, and a unique program form was founded in order to make open studies possible. This attracts a special pool of students – adults who occupy responsible posts and are able to use gained skills and expertise. This is the only way people of this level can receive the necessary education.
The introduction of program students and graduates to the expert community is clear. Expert committees and boards affiliated with foundations and non-governmental organizations involve CEPS students; they are introduced to projects conducted by the Ministry of Education, and various international programs.
Many students’ and graduates’ career advancement and change of occupational level is also evident, as it is they whom their supervisors address when they need a research report to be drafted, a new education project to be developed, an expert analysis to be done and so on. There are within Moscow and other regions, universities collaborating with the Center; CEPS has also begun collaborating with newly created Centers for Educational Policy Studies in CIS and Central Europe countries. The Center is increasingly regarded as a partner for other developing programs of this kind.
Aims, goals and subject matter of the professional retraining program in Center for Educational Policy Studies: Main Approaches
While planning the education curriculum of the Center, its creators set a number of criteria for themselves and their future students:
• People involved in the study program are expected to have an amount of knowledge, expertise, and competence in the sphere under consideration; they should have a level of authority in order to utilize the gained knowledge and be able to analyze their experience and plan their future activity during their studies;
• The participants of the program should assume a number of roles: apart from being students, they should act as contributors to the plans of modernization of the regional educational systems, as analysts and developers, creators of an interregional database, collecting information about appealing educational projects and pace of reform in their regions etc.
Organization and Teaching Technologies.
The form that appears to be optimal for this group of specialists is two years of intra-extramural studies. The Center’s education program includes a number of short-term studies.
The students are given intensive courses (each is up to 28 hours of in-class learning) through traditional lectures and seminars as well as workshops, master classes, problem seminars, discussions and case studies. The students have also intensive independent work: they examine documents and files related to educational policy, carry on their scientific research to prepare for their final paper (Master Thesis) with the guidance by the Center’s experts and tutors, and work on their own practice-oriented educational projects. Between the terms students learn part of the material on their own with the help of education materials and counseling with the Center’s professors from home through mail, discussions and taking advice via e-mail and video-conferencing. The official result of studying in the Center is the Russian State Diploma in Professional Retraining and the Master’s Diploma of the University of Manchester given to the graduates.
The Center extensively uses modern information and communication technologies including electronic media and remote access information in the educational process. A part of courseware, such as literature selections and some of the training aids, is given to the students on discs for self-study, another part of information is available on the Internet, and course materials are sent to the students via e-mail. The program’s structure allows every student to study according to his individually-formed (according to his opinion) curriculum. Nevertheless, all students are to take general courses as well as elective ones. The Center’s curriculums are formed according to the potential requests of the participants and differing experience of practicing experts in education policy. The courses are held by leading Russian experts and representatives of foreign universities.
The Center for Educational Policy Studies focuses on post-graduate work. From one side, it assists in introducing the graduates to the further development of the Center, and from the other side, it makes it possible to keep in touch with the graduates and to provide them with new information and developments. So every new class of the program’s graduates merges into the professional network and augments its professional potential by keeping touch with each other and course officials.