Highlights and observations from Moscow Global Forum – City of Education – 2019
This article has been written for the UKEdMagazine Supplement focusing on the Moscow Global Forum – City of Education 2019 event. You can find out more information about the MGF2019 at https://moscowglobalforum.ru/en
A visit to an educational exhibition, festival or forum often offers an insight to what the priorities are within the society where it is hosted. Take away the layers of the international giant exhibitors, and you can see where small, start-up industries see an opportunity to fill gaps in education that, they feel, are still valued within society. Among the glitz and glam of the modern technological advances, you can see products, services and industries that are present among the local environment, and a visit to the Moscow Global Forum, City of Education 2019 (MGF2019) was no different.
Celebrating one of the largest exhibitions in this part of the world, with the number of delegates exceeding 146,000 over a four-day period – including royalty, educational leaders, teachers, school-leaders, pupils and other educational organisations – the MGF2019 highlighted some stark elements that shine a mirror on the culture and priorities within the Russian capital city: the embracement of educational technologies; competition, and; STEM.
From the forum, these three strands were clear to see, and evidence was in abundance around the four-day celebration of education.
Embracement of Educational Technologies:
Speak to any young Moscovite, and they will avidly tell you about the technology they love to use both at home and school. The educational system within Moscow (in particular) has invested greatly in the latest technology available to help enhance teaching and learning. The central e-schools portal offers a rich resource of lesson ideas, videos and information that is available and accessible to students, teachers, school-leaders and parents in and away from the school building.
From a UK perspective, it is surprising to see how shooter-type learning experiences are showcased within the exhibition, with many different army-based activities popular around the MGF arena, and they are popular.
Notably, a project focusing on the gaming industry was popular and evident, with a Moscow school evident, with a Moscow school opening specifically to help students, from the age of 14, become part of the gaming process, from the ideas, development, implementation and release of new gaming ideas.
An addition to the exhibition floor space was the inclusion of coding platforms, helping young people acquire key technology programming skills that are going to impact on their futures and gain an understanding of the software they interact with.
Bright lights, shiny displays and eye-catching activities were a prominent feature throughout the two large exhibition halls, but space was also given to smaller companies whose budgets are more constrained, with robotics and stop-frame animation learning opportunities tucked away in the connecting corridor.
Competition within Russian schools is very notable, with medals, certification and commendations highly regarded. School entrances are plastered with trophies and certificates, and the enticement to achieve well is clear – especially among boys who, if they do not proceed with their education, can be conscripted to join the army at the age of 16. For girls, failure to achieve academically can lead to increased difficulty in gaining the simplest of employment.
At the MGF arena, celebrations of achievements were high on the agenda, with awards being given to the schools Olympiad, and the pride and commitment to such competition are very clear to see. Teachers were also praised and rewarded for their commitment to pedagogical developments and involvement in developing the Moscow E-School platform that continues to grow to support the teaching and learning across the curriculum.
Achievements within STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics), were scattered around the two main halls of the MGF2019, with a fascination clear among young delegates.
Even younger delegates had the chance to explore accessible microscopes and coding equipment, with older students having the opportunity to explore chemistry experiments within the arena. Beyond the sciences, delegates were able to explore technological advances that can be used in education, alongside engineering building-blocks that lay the foundation of developing an interest in a wide range of industries.
Young people are encouraged to participate in the WorldSkills competition that focuses them on practical learning activities including tile-cutting, 3d model creations, engineering and coding. This was a particularly popular and busy section within the arena, giving young people hands-on experiences to try out new skills.
It is clear to see that the Government of Moscow is continuing to invest heavily in their education infrastructure, with a focus on STEM-based subjects still highly regarded, along with advanced Russian language skills, and English. Alongside, modern technological facilities that are being rolled out to most schools within the capital.
Speaking at the end-of-show press conference, Isaak Kalina, Minister of the Moscow Government, Head, Moscow Department of Education said:
I can personally see what school environment are interesting for our young people. Every topic that I saw at the forum was very interesting. I am very much interested in how to make a school more efficient for the teachers and students. We understand that, for every teacher, we know that if we are not capable of interesting our students, then our efforts are for nothing. During this forum, I can see the fields that students are particularly interested – what are the techno-spheres, what are the subjects, and what are the topics. I like to imagine the image of our schools for the future, and the forum helps to see that.Response given in Russian – quote from translation.
Following the Soviet era, it is clear that the educational system did require an update in terms of infrastructure, curriculum and facilities but, thanks to a clear financial injection, the City of Moscow is well placed to steer its young people into an exciting, positive and sustainable future.
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