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National models of education systems: structure and outcome of transformations

Priority areas of development: humanitarian

Goal of research:

analysis and comparison of evolutionary transformation of national educational systems of secondary and higher education in the process of transformation of a single cultural and geo-political space after the collapse of the USSR based on statistical and normative data pertaining to the dynamics of basic educational indicators,

comparative overview of various conditions of secondary school and higher educational systems of former USSR countries aimed at identifying patterns of change and governing laws of secondary school and higher education change based on methods of historical synthesis,

identification of specific factors that determine the resilience of transformability of educational systems in post-Soviet countries as well as identification of the inter-relationships between these factors from the perspective of neoinstitutionalism, social cultural dynamics, world culture theory and the theory of complexity of innovation transformation.


The study draws on a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methodologies, textual analysis of legislative bases, cluster analysis of institution types, as well as vertical and horizontal country comparison. Methods of data comparison included in-country searching, processing and systematising national educational statistics in former USSR republics. Methods of data analysis included historical synthesis, institutional analysis, statistical analysis, and contextual country comparison. At the meta-level neoinstitutionalism and path dependence theories were employed to outline general country overviews and describe the logic of transformation in terms of convergence, divergence and hybridity of resulting outcomes.

Empirical base of research:

Primary empirical data included available national statistical and qualitative data and country reports, as well as first-hand qualitative data collected by the team in the process of project development. Additional sources included international databases on secondary school and higher education, such as:

CIS STAT http://www.cisstat.org/0base/index.htm

RosStat http://www.gks.ru

UNESCO http://www.uis.unesco.org

World Bank’s SABER reports http://saber.worldbank.org/index.cfm  

OECD statistics http://www.oecd.org/education

Results of research:

  • collection, processing and analysis of statistical data according to specific indicators of change of secondary school and higher education in dynamic in former USSR countries,
  • comparative analysis of educational reforms in former USSR countries,
  • identification of specific factors that determine the resilience or transformability of educational systems of post-Soviet countries,
  • identification of inter-relationships between these factors from the perspective of neoinstitutionalism, theories of socio-cultural dynamics, and theories of complexity of innovation change,
  • design and testing of methodological approaches to the study of factors of transformability and resilience of educational systems,
  • identification of boundaries for the application of methods of statistical data analysis aimed at highlighting driving forces and the nature of change of social institutions based on the cases of Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

Level of implementation, recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of the results

The results of the study have been utilised on both national and international levels. Some of the practical outcomes included public, professional and expert discussions as well as discussions between national educational authorities in the former USSR countries, as well as the presentation of recommendations and policy notes for future joint efforts aimed at educational modernisation. As a result of the project, a unified comparative post-Soviet database was created that systematised key educational indicators identified in the process of collective data analysis. The indicators included those identified in large-scale international data sets and national statistics. A collective monograph titled “Twenty-five year of transition: dynamics and outcomes of secondary school change in post-Soviet countries” is in preparation and expected to be published the Higher School of Education Publishing House in 2017. All participating national in-country teams received an aggregate database for all fifteen country cases to use in their own comparative projects in the future.