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Community Education

Community Education is

  1. a philosophic concept of education

  2. an approach to the community development

Community Education (CE) as a concept is an educational philosophy based on the following principles:

  • Learning continues throughout life

  • All members of community including citizens, businessmen, public and private organizations have the responsibility for the increase of education level of all members of the community

  • Participation in the activity to define the needs and the resources of the community and to answer these needs at the expense of the existed resources for improvement of the community life is the right and the duty of every member of community.

Community Education as an approach to the community development and the development of people resources is

  • Process which puts together the members of the community to define the needs and the resources of the community, combining them in the way it would result in the increase of the life quality in the community

  • Possibility for local people, community schools, local organizations and establishments to become active partners in solving the problems of education and community.

Community Education covers all the local population. It counts on different age groups and it means both the re-training of the working people and the social involvement of the marginal population groups: the unemployed, the elderly people, and the invalids.

History of Community Education in Russia

The history of the Russian education has never developed separately from the society. If we look back, we’ll see that the elements of community education in Russia appeared long ago. They existed before the Revolution, during the Soviet and the post-Soviet periods. It’s enough to remember the zemstvo system movement, boards of guardians in girls and boys gymnasiua of the pre-revolutionary Russia, the advanced views by the outstanding teachers of Russia: Makarenko and his pupils –to build up a new life through a new school, the experience of Ushinskiy, Shatskiy, Suchomlinskiy and others.

In the basis of the Zemstvo system reform which started in the 50’s of the XVI century there was the idea to strengthen Russia as a single state through the changes in the governing at the local level, and the introduction of the Zemstvo system reform (1864) and the city reform (1870) by Alexander II had the aim to develop the local self-administration on the basis of self-financing. The activity of these district councils (zemstvo) covered almost all spheres of life. Education of population was one of the main tasks. By developing education they won over the advanced Russian intelligentsia and the wide public circles. It turned into the all-Russian public teaching movement, which to some extent solved the problems of people education unlike the limited and elite education. “Closing in school and family” was one of the tasks.

In 1905 there appeared the first parents’ committees, which did much to renovate school life. Together with teachers they formed commissions to select the most demanded curricula and the convenient regime of studies. They helped conduct summer group classes for backward pupils, excursions and scientific gatherings, publish school newspapers and magazines, and restore gyms. The pupils were also active: they created children’s councils, which closely collaborated with the districts councils and town administration councils.

School trusteeship developed creating new forms (parents, committees, boards of trustees, societies of public school trustees etc.). In March 1907 in Russia there was issued the law “About the Collective Boards of trustees for public school”,in which it said “about the creation of special collective organs or small societies to govern the activities of every school”. The preconditions of such organs were the facts that “the population who used the public school has no vote either in the school board or in the district council (zemstvo). The people cannot influence school affairs. People and school are isolated from each other through the representatives from the school board and authorities; but the study and educational work of every school can be successful only when it answers the real requirements and needs of the population to whom it serves; the close ties between school and people are necessary…”

The boards of guardians worked especially effectively in girls and boys gymnasia. It’s interesting that the work in the boards of trustees in boys’ gymnasia was considered to be prestige but influence of the boards of trustees in girls’gymnasia was much more stronger because the state supported them financially not enough and the members of the board had more opportunities to form the budget and influence the educational process.

The law “About some changes in boys and girls gymnasia, grammar and vocational schools”(01.01.1914) described the structure of Board of trustees, the number of its members, the election of its leading organ and empowered the following rights: election of director, inspector, heads and form-masters, governesses, educators, doctors; superintendence of the facilities; introduction of payment for tutorials and boarding according to the authorities agreement; preparation of annual reports etc.

Education has always been the factor of economic development and welfare in any society and the factor of national security.

In the beginning of the 90’s our society began changing fast. In public relations they paid more attention to democracy and openness. To satisfy the demands under way the organizations had to look for new forms of their work. More and more often such words as democracy, openness, and civic initiatives are sounded. Such swift changes took place in the sphere of education as well and first of all, in secondary school. They were the ideas of community education, which allowed to look at the public participation in the development of education in a new way and to revive many positive traditions of the Soviet school. Having appeared under conditions of the crisis in the 90’s, community school model became the field of the active partnership of the state and the community, which let realize both the state demand and parents’ demand. The productive activity characteristic for community school made for the transformation of the local population into the local community. Re-interpreting of the educational task, its role and status in districts, development of the methods in collaboration with community allowed schools to go up to a new level, to become the center of the community where the problems typical not only for schools but for the community as well can be solved and thanks to these things to lessen the consequences of the crisis in local communities.

Community school model gives the possibility to school and local community to become active participants in the sphere of education, in widening its accessibility, increase of its effectiveness and its responsibility in the field of civil education and bringing up children, parents, all the population to start the development of the Russian civil society based on the actual deeds under the conditions of school, districts, villages. School must become the most important factor for humanization of public economic relations, for development of new personal aims. The developing society needs well-educated, moral and enterprising people who can take decisions independently prognosing their possible consequences and measures to collaborate.

Community school model allows the secondary school to become community school without prejudice to its main functions in the form of a municipal educational establishment. In the basis of community school model there are the advanced western experience of schools which direct their attention to the needs of the community and the preservation of Soviet school traditions and the addressing to the history of the Russian education at the period when there were actively formed local districts schools (in zemstvo) and there worked the boards of trustees.

The Russian Community School Model

The Russian community school model appeared during the social economic crisis of the 1990’s. Krasnoyarsk Centre for Community Partnerships (KCCP), which was formed, by teachers and leaders of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from the USA and Siberia in 1997 is the center and the site of development of community education in Russia. Having studied and analyzed the international and Russian experience, the center, then called “Local Community Collaboration”, worked out the community school model (CS), which was supposed to revive the community involvement in education, but in reality it became the effective mechanism in civic society development at the local level. The basis of the model is the philosophy of the community education as the approach to the community development.

They started from the program “Corps of democratic teachers” which was aimed at the strengthening of the civic role in the educational activity of school. In the focus of the program there were teachers of History, Civics and the English Language who were supposed to become the organizers of democratic reforms in school.

So what is the community school? Community school is the school which has the aim not only in giving the educational services to pupils, but in developing the community, recruiting parents and residents to the solution of social and other problems typical both for school and the community.

It is the school, which adopts the concept of community education as an approach to the community development, which is the possibility for local people, community schools, local organizations and establishments to become active partners in the solution of local problems.

It is the school, which is going to become not only the educational establishment but also a civil, cultural, public resource center of the district, village or settlement. To fulfill all the above-mentioned things it is necessary to reorganize the activity of your educational establishment in the definite way. All the processes, which are under way in our establishments, are divided into three directions: Democratization, Volunteerism and Partnership. Every direction of community school appeared from the experience of the Siberian schools and is based on the local needs and interests. Schools filling these directions with their own experience work out three programs, which add each other. Usually these programs have the titles: Democratization of school, Volunteerism and School-community partnership. For every program there are defined the aims, there are elaborated the methods and there appears the whole system of the work for the educational establishment.

To realize the programs there are recruited interested organizations, people, but the school has the leading role.

Schools give to their graduates not only the necessary level of the academic education but also the skills of the civil activity and self-realization. Such work allows solving the social problems of the community without waiting for the state decisions and thus it reduces the social intensity. The Russian model of community school says about the necessity to bring up the sense of responsibility through the collaboration of pupils, parents, teachers, and representatives of power circles, businessmen and other members of the community to achieve the common goal – the best future for everybody.

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