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Home / Education in Russia / System of education in brief / Russian Educational System today /

General education



General education comprises three stages corresponding to the levels of educational programmes:


primary general education (as a rule, the standard duration is four years);

basic general education (the standard duration is five years);

secondary (complete) general education (the standard duration is two to three years).

General education programmes now comprise eleven years of studies, while before 1985, they lasted ten years. The extension of total duration occurred at the expense of an earlier school enrollment at the age of 6 (7, before 1985). So students normally finish secondary (complete) general education at the age of 17. There are also twelve-year schools for part-time education and education in the arts.

At present, the system of general education includes 66,909 educational establishments in which 20,825,000 students are enrolled. Some 607 private schools have been established over the last years. The official name of general education schools is the Secondary General School. During the last years, new types of schools called gymnasiaand lycei (singular: gymnasium and lyceum), that can be state and private, were set up. The duration of studies in gymnasia and lycei can exceed that of Secondary General Schools, and their educational programmes can be more advanced.

General education curricula normally stipulate thirty-four weeks of study per year and, as a rule, twenty-seven to thirty-eight hours of study per week. The academic year starts on 1 September and runs through the beginning of June. School examinations are scheduled in June. For certain categories of students, the stipulated period of study can be changed according to the specific State educational standard.

A Basic Curriculum for General Education (Table 1) has been developed which lays down the State requirements as to the minimum content of education and the workload of students. The Basic Curriculum designates the compulsory fields of study (Humanities with a special emphasis on Russian Language, Literature, Social Sciences, and Physical Education; Natural Sciences with priority given to Mathematics; and Technology). The Social Sciences can include such subjects as Foreign Languages, Russian History, World History, Economic and Social Geography, Law, Political Science, Economics, etc. The Natural Sciences can cover Biology, Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry, Ecology, etc. Technology normally includes Drawing and a number of disciplines for the imparting of certain professional skills: basic skills of general utility for pupils (Home Economics, Sewing, Cooking, Metal Work, Carpentry, etc.) and, in upper grades, basic skills for the exercise of certain professions.

In addition to these required fields of study, the Basic Curriculum provides for disciplines which could be added because of being specific to the particular region in which the school is located as well as optional disciplines in accordance with the interests of pupils.

In practice, each school designs its own curriculum, basing it upon the Basic Curriculum.

Table 1.

Basic Curriculum for General Education in the Russian Federation.


Russia has well-developed networks of schools offering advanced programmes which are based on the Basic Curriculum and can be offered in a number of ways:


  • through schools offering advanced programmes in selected disciplines such as foreign languages, mathematics, physics, etc.;

  • through schools with developed out-of-school activities giving a profound mastery of fine arts, philosophy, economics, sports, and other fields;

  • through schools in which senior grades work under the auspices (and tutorship) of higher education institutions and use the academic staff and facilities of the latter.


Primary general education and basic general education are compulsory. On the completion of basic general education (a nine-year programme), students take final examinations (the procedure is called the State final attestation) and are awarded, if they pass, the Certificate of Basic General Education (Attestat ob Osnovnom Obshchem Obrazovanii)(Annex 2, Fig.1). As a result of the State final attestation, students may or may not be encouraged to continue their education. The Certificate entitles its holder to be admitted either to secondary (complete) general education or to vocational education, as well as to non-university level higher education.

The Certificate of Secondary (Complete) General Education (Attestat o Srednem (Polnom) Obshchem Obrazovanii; before 1993, the Attestat o Srednem Obrazovanii - Certificate of Secondary Education) (Annex 2, Fig. 2 and 3) is awarded after the completion of an eleven-year school programme and the successful passing of the State final attestation (final examinations). The number of disciplines subject to final examinations should not be fewer than five: two federal compulsory written examinations (composition and mathematics) and no less than three optional examinations at the choice of the student. In addition to the results of the final examinations, school leaving certificates include a supplement (Annex 2, Fig. 4) listing the grades obtained by students in all the subjects taught during the whole period of education. The old version of the certificate (Attestat o Srednem Obrazovanii) has no supplement, and the grades are listed on the certificate itself. The number of subjects may vary from seventeen to twenty. Final and annual examinations are two-thirds written and one-third oral; examinations taken during the learning process are in the reversed proportion.

The school leaving certificate (Certificate of Secondary (Complete) General Education) entitles its holder to pursue professional education: either vocational education, or both non-university and university level higher education.

In the last few years, numerous private schools have been established. The authorization to grant nationally recognized certificates (certificates of the State format) is linked to success in the State accreditation procedures. Certificates awarded by non-accredited institutions (of non-State format) do not grant the right to be admitted to higher education institutions.

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