Russians seek educational relief at community college 11 from Siberia 'get acquainted' with AACC

July 31, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Vladimir Kataev had a headache and wasn't feeling so great until he was handed a tablet of ibuprofen.

Now, if only he and the 10 other directors of Russian community colleges in Siberia could find as quick a cure for the educational headaches in their country.

The group of Russian educators visited Anne Arundel Community College yesterday as part of a U.S. tour to see how students in this country are trained for the job market.

"We came here to get acquainted with how American community colleges work," said Vladimir Bespalko, a professor of the Russian Academy of Education who was the group's interpreter. "We are doing serious thinking on how to make the quality of education higher."

The visit was sponsored by the Russian Ministry of Education, which is trying to help colleges cope with the transition from a state-controlled economy to a market-based one.

Rea Keech, an English professor and coordinator of international education at the community college, said the Maryland Higher Education Commission office in Annapolis called him three weeks ago to organize the visit.

"Until Communism ended, all college graduates were guaranteed jobs by the government," Keech said. "With the opening of the free market, they're finding that their students are having trouble with their jobs. They're wondering if their traditional education is the right thing for them."

The group toured the campus, visiting the Allied Health building and the Careers building. Many of the directors were impressed with the technology and the size of the buildings.

Kataev, who is the president of Irkutsk Community College in Siberia, was so fascinated that he asked an instructor to take his blood pressure. When he learned it was normal, he asked for some ibuprofen for his headache.

Before the end of Communism, education was free and the government paid the professors and staff to run colleges, Kataev said. Now, government subsidies are declining while colleges still must provide tuition-free educations.

"In Russia, there is a shortage of money," Kataev said. "That is a problem because how do we get the money and what are the sources of this money."

Ludmilla Rudina, who is the principal of a 500-student builders school, said she is more worried about the rundown and outdated equipment her students and teachers have to work with.

"I want to work to improve the facilities," Rudina said. "If my teachers had facilities with the same level as their teaching, then ZTC the learning for the students would be very high, too."

Russians value education, Bespalko said. Everyone can read and write, and even children in kindergarten are learning English, he said. "We're trying to make our education [system] much better," he said. "That's our main goal."

Pub Date: 7/31/96

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