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Russia has a long-standing tradition in high-quality education for all citizens. It probably has also one of the best mass-eduction systems in the world producing a literacy rate (98%) exceeding most Western European countries. Education is split into a compulsory Basic Education, and ongoing Higher Education.
Compulsory Basic Education
Basic general education lasts for nine years. Graduates of this level may continue their education at senior high school to receive secondary general education. They may also enter an initial vocational school or non-university level higher education institutions. Initial vocational schools include PTU (Professional'no-technicheskoe uchilische) which offer one-and-a-half to two years' purely professional education and a Professional'ny Litsei which offer joint professional and secondary general education for three to four years and skilled workers' training at different levels. Non-university level higher education institutions also offer three- to four-year professional and secondary general education and two-year vocational training for holders of the School Leaving Certificate. Secondary general education on the basis of basic general education continues for two years and ends when students are 17-18. Graduates from a secondary general school may apply for entrance to a higher education institution. Secondary education leads to the award of the Attestat o Srednem (Polnom) Obshchem Obrasovanii (Certificate of Secondary Complete General Education).
Higher education is provided by public and non-public (non-State) accredited higher education institutions. There are two levels of higher education:
Basic higher education (4 years) leading to the Bakalavr's degree, the first university level degree. This is equivalent to the B.Sc. degree in the US or Western Europe
Postgraduate higher education (5-6 years or more). After two years, students are entitled to receive a Magistr's degree. This is equivalent to a Master's Degree (M.Sc, M.A.) in the US or Western Europe. After a Master's degree, students can continue to study towards a doctoral degree: Kandidat Nauk degree (the first level, equivalent to Ph.D.) and Doktor Nauk degree (the second, highest level, equivalent to Professor).
The public educational system in Russia includes pre-schools, general schools, specialised secondary and higher education. So-called pre-schools are kindergartens in fact. Children there learn reading, writing and maths. But pre-school education isn't compulsory - children can get it at home. Compulsory education is for children from 6(7) to 17 years of age. The main branch in the system of education is the general schools which prepare the younger generation for life and work. There are various types of schools: general secondary schools, schools specialising in a certain subject, high schools, gymnasiums and so on. The term of study in a general secondary school is 11 years and consists of primary, middle and upper stages. At the middle stage of a secondary school children learn the basic laws of nature and society at the lessons of history, algebra, literature, physics and many others. After 9th form pupils have to sit for examinations. Also they have a choice between entering the 10th grade of a general secondary school or going to professional school. Pupils who finish the general secondary school, receive a secondary education certificate, giving them the right to enter any higher educational establishment. One has to study in the institute for 5 years. Higher educational institutions train students in one or several specialisations.