Science and Education News

Following the results of meeting with the Ukrainian Education Minister Dmitry Tabachnik, Andrey Fursenko, Russian Education Minister, declared that Russia and the Ukrain created unified teacher’s books on history and unified textbooks. According to Fursenko, it is crucial for Russian and Ukrainian young people to study the same materials.
The meeting took place in Kiev within the framework of the 4th united meeting of the sub-committee on humanitarian cooperation of the Ukraine-Russia international commission.
Andrey Fursenko, Education Minister of the Russian Federation, appraised the meeting: “Very good atmosphere, new ideas appear”. He underlined the importance of the fact that the committee on humanitarian cooperation between Russian and the Ukraine pay much attention to such trends as tourism development and communication of young people of the two countries. “It is necessary to create conditions for young people to communicate, to have the same books, may be to use the same textbooks, at least the same materials, in the education process,” said Fursenko.
5th Science Festival took place in Moscow. Its main venue was the Intellectual Center – the Fundamental Library of the Moscow State University.
Main organizers of the festival were: the Moscow State University, the Moscow government, Ministry of Science and Education of the Russian Federation. The event was also supported by the interstate foundation for humanitarian cooperation among the CIS countries.
The Fundamental Library and academic building No 1 of the Moscow State University were the central venues of the festival. Leading Russian and foreign scientists in various subjects gave lectures there.
In particular, visitors of the festival listened to “Large Hadron Collider and cosmology” speech made by RAS academician Valery Rubakov. RAS academician Robert Nigmatullin delivered a lecture “Climate change: scientific data and consequences”, and professor of the Michigan University (USA) Alexey Kondrashov – a lecture named “Evolution evidence”.
Besides, interactive popular science events were held and clips of participating organizations were demonstrated within the framework of the festival.
There were about 80 areas of participating organizations in Moscow. Over 10 Russian regions held their own scientific festvals at the same time with the 5th Moscow Science Festival.
The main exposition of the festival was displayed in Expocenter and included not less than 100 organizations participating in the festival.
Scientific festivals first appeared in 1830-s in Great Britain, where public lectures, discussions and demonstration of experiments gained popularity.
The first scientific festival in Russia was held in Moscow State University from October 27 to October 29, 2006. It attracted more than 20 thousand visitors. The main purpose of the Science Festival is to popularize science, to show its place and role in modern world, to prove the necessity of integrating scientific knowledge into modern life of people.
Texts in Verdana font strain our eyes less than others. Scientists from the Visual Ergonomics Research Laboratory (USA) consider Verdana font the safest for eyesight. When reading text in this font people feel the least discomfort and their eye muscles strain the least.
Now people who spend a lot of time in front of the computer have a chance to avoid myopia and computer vision syndrome. Besides, the specialists say that font size 10 – 12 is the best for eyesight.
Verdana font was designed by Matthew Carter in 1996. The letters have no hairlines and are made larger at the expense of interline spacing, which makes the font more comfortable to read.
Arkady Dvorkovich, Assistant to the President of the Russian Federation, suggests that in the next three years Russian higher education institutions should concentrate on educating specialists in the five fields (directions) named by the Commission for Modernization and Technological Development of Russia’s Economy as priorities.
“As for universities, the suggestion is to make a shift in the structure of special education subjects to the five priorities pointed out by the commission within the framework of the program of developing Russian higher education institutions and within the framework of the projects stipulated by the government regulation on cooperation between universities and Russian companies,” Dvorkovich said at the meeting of the Council on Realization of National Projects and Demographic Policy on July 29, Thursday. The same should be done with research programs and priorities for theses. “These are completely concrete things which should be reflected in financing structure for these or those special subjects in the leading higher education institutions that were chosen as federal universities, national research universities, as well as basic leading universities – Moscow State University and St. Petersburg State University,” he thinks.
According to the Assistant to the President of the Russian Federation, evaluation criteria for these programs should include successful education of the corresponding specialists.
Commission for Modernization and Technological Development of Russia’s Economy was established in May 2009. Five priority directions were described at its first meeting, namely raising energy efficiency (including development of new fuel types), nuclear technologies, space technologies (first of all those connected with telecommunications, GLONASS and ground infrastructure), medical technologies, strategic information technologies (including creation of supercomputers and software).
“In 2011 over one third of educational institutions in each region will use free software on more than a half of their computers,” said Andrey Fursenko, Minister of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, at “Information Society” VIIth Tver Social and Economic Forum. According to his words, the Ministry of Education and Science will maintain financial support on federal level to develop this trend in 2010 and 2011. Besides, the ministry supports software maintenance, development and modernization.
“Access to the package and its technical support were ensured at the expense of the federal budget. We have had over 80 thousand pedagogic and administrative employees trained,” the minister informed. According to him, there are over 7.5 thousand people who train teachers on site. Today, almost every educational institution has a person who has gained special skills and can teach to use free software. “92% of schools have established trial zones for using free software, this means that there is such software installed at least on one computer,” head of the Ministry of Education and Science added.
Andrey Fursenko also reminded that a system of avoiding Internet access was developed in 2006-2007. Now the federal segment of the system processes about 250 million requests a day, 1.5 million of which are filtered off as they do not correspond to educational and upbringing tasks. At the same time new educational e-resources are created, now there are over 100 thousand such resources in the base of the Ministry of Education and Science. 17 thousand of them are interactive. Besides, the Ministry of Education and Science is developing a complex of steps to implement electronic library systems aimed at wide access to educational materials in the sphere of education and science.
Dmitry Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation, announced the necessity to create a united e-base of scientific theses. According to the President’s words, all theses and author’s abstracts should be accessible in electronic form, “so that we could see those who really do scientific research, and those theses we can sometimes be simply ashamed of.”
Medvedev stressed that “no one would go to the library to work through a volume written for a certain sum to get a status bonus”.
At present in Russia there are rules stipulating that scientific theses are kept in the Russian State Library after their defense. The exception is made for theses in medical and pharmaceutical sciences which are kept in the State Central Scientific Medical Library. Besides, a legal deposit copy is kept in the Center for Information Technologies and Systems of the executive authorities.
Dmitry Medvedev himself defended a master’s thesis on civil law in 1990. The theme of his thesis was “The problems of realizing civil legal personality of a public enterprise” You can see the author’s abstract of the thesis following this link (in Russian, pdf).
The president made the declaration about the creation of the base of theses at the meeting of the Presidential Council for the Development of Information Society in Tver. Besides, he touched upon the issue of teachers’ computer literacy, according to RIA Novosti information agency.
“If students use all this, especially new software, new computer types, and teachers cannot even tell the one from the other, it is not very good, as, frankly speaking, it lessens a teacher’s authority,” Medvedev said, naming the ability to use the Internet an element of general culture.
For his part, Andrey Fursenko, Minister of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, announced at the same meeting the need to provide the necessary conditions for teachers to improve their computer literacy. Medvedev supported the idea, noting that “one cannot simply demand without providing conditions”.
Fursenko also informed that a “Student’s Profile” computer program is currently under development in Russia. It will help to track all student’s achievements. Besides, according to ITAR TASS information agency, Fursenko promised that by 2012 all Russian students will be using electronic school record books.
A new law on education should be amended so that library сould become a necessary structural part of a school, and school librarian’s position сould be improved at least a little. Lyudmila Putina, PM’s wife, intends to help achieve this goal. On July 1, Thursday, she visited the school librarians’ conference “Mikhaylovskoye-2010” taking place in Pushkinskiye Gory (Pushkin’s Mountains) in the Pskov Region.
Adults are fond of complaining about their children, who are glued to the computer screen, but at the same time 40% of Russian families do not even have one book at home, and 30% of families have less than 100 publications in their private libraries. These numbers were cited yesterday by Tatyana Zhukova, president of the Russian School Library Association. So how can children get into the habit of reading? They can probably learn reading from a library, but generally, 90% of rural libraries’ funds and 69% of city libraries’ funds are shabby and outdated.
“You have chosen the forum’s emblem so correctly – it is a paper ship. – Lyudmila Putina decided not to use dry official hackneyed expressions. It seems to be so unsteady, yet it doesn’t sink. I don’t know how about you, but I feel like crying…” she said.
It is not the first year that Lyudmila Putina supervises school libraries, so their employees consider her their patron. And school libraries need help from the state badly. Representatives of the Russian School Library Association give the US by way of example: Laura Bush, having LIS education, managed to gain a substantial increase in funding school book repositories. Tatyana Zhukova says that, according to her American colleagues, President Obama wanted to reduce this budget item, but people managed to persuade him not to do so: in the school where his daughters study there is a good library, but many other schools have worse libraries, so they need funding.
Modernization process in Russian libraries is under way, though it goes slowly. For example, a pilot project of using readers (e-books) in libraries started not long ago. However, librarians themselves say that library collections cannot be completely digital: children, especially little ones, need colourful pictures, convenient font and the very process of turning book pages for their development.
“It is even strange that school library platform is not used to the full,” regretted Lyudmila Putina. She explained that the platform can and must be both a recreation space and a place for solving problems within “teacher-student-parent” triangle.
PM’s wife confirmed that she is for giving school librarians the same status as teachers have. This would help solve the wages problem (now school librarians are “omitted” in school funding), and it would simply be fair.

The State Duma made amendments concerning the Unified State Examination to the laws “On Education” and “On Higher and Post-Graduate Professional Education”.
The amendments aim at improving the Unified State Examination and the process of accepting applicants to universities according to the examination results. The amendments were worked out by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation.
The amendments particularly aim at ensuring confidentiality of checking the exam results. It is also proposed to introduce public observers who would keep order during the examination. The authors of the amendments also propose to bind all licensed higher education institutions to accept applicants on the basis of their Unified State Examination results.

Recently many scholars have become worried about the fact that Internet destroys health. But the latest research in this field made people doubt this fact. Researchers from the university of California carried out an interesting experiment. They asked 55-78-year-old volunteers to surf the net actively for a month. Doctors were surveying the volunteers constantly and made EEGs.
It turned out that the volunteers’ cerebral activity was higher than activity of those who gained information mainly from books – book readers’ cerebral activity was much less stimulated, according to Besides, the researchers received evidence that work in the Internet helped prevent aged-related changes which often lead to dotage and amnesia.
“When surfing the net, the human brain works to complete several tasks simultaneously,” explains Robert Blanks, gerontologist and one of the initiators of the research. “In particular, parts of human brain in charge of speech, reading, memory, and vision are activated. It is wonderful that active mental work continues even after one has finished working in the Internet,” he said.
Specialists recommend to senior citizens to surf the net at least for an hour a day to prevent dotage and ageing. Perhaps, Internet is the very technology acting as “youth elixir”.
Source: Komsomolskaya Pravda

Pskov region became the only one in Russia that completely fulfilled its obligations in realization of the complex program of education modernization in 2006-2009. Over 30 Russian regions took part in the program. According to press-service of the regional administration, these numbers were mentioned at the meeting of the Board of the State Education Agency, the members of which summarized the work of the education system of the Pskov Region in 2009.
According to Vera Emelyanova, Head of the Agency, the program made it possible to raise the prestige of work at school and to raise wages for school teachers, which made a difference for their social security and productivity of their labour.
“In our region a teacher’s wages come up to 112% of the average level in this sphere. In St. Petersburg, for instance, the wages make up 79% of the average level. On the governor’s initiative, the starting allowance for new employees in our region is 50 thousand roubles, in St. Petersburg – 15 thousand roubles. This data is not our main checkpoint, of course, but it gives a clue to general trends,” - Vera Emelyanova thinks.
She noted that the complex program of education modernization allowed to make the use of budget money more efficient due to financial independence of enterprises and development of their directors’ managerial skills. They managed to raise education quality by modernizing material and technical basis, broadening the range of educational services, modernizing the system of post-grade studies, implementing independent assessment of the results of teachers’ work and students’ progress. Besides, modern education became available for all students, irrespective of their place of residence. “The program helped us to ensure active participation of the community in the development of educational process, as well as to prepare the educational community for external assessment of its activities and of school education quality,” Vera Emelyanova stressed.
On Monday, March 29, Vladimir Ivanov, Vice Governor of the Nizhny Novgorog Region, conducted the final meeting of the organizing committee for preparation and holding of the III International “ITForum 2020/Information Society”. The organizing committee consists of heads of regional executive authorities, representatives of higher education institutions, heads of unities interested in supporting organizations of the Nizhny Novgorog Region.
Within the framework of the organizing committee meeting its members discussed the questions connected with preparations for the congress part of the forum, participation in the forum’s exposition, invitations to Russian and foreign guests of the forum, preparation of information and advertising campaign and of cultural program of the forum in Nizhny Novgorod.
The structure of the forum includes seven directions corresponding to the strategy of information society development in the Russian Federation:
Direction 1: Science. Personnel. Foresight;
Direction 2: Turnkey Infrastructure;
Direction 3: Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Defending Security;
Direction 4: Life Made Digital;
Direction 5: ICT and Law;
Direction 6: ICT at Public Service;
Direction 7: Economy Must Be E-conomical.
26 events will take place within the framework of these directions: a plenary session, 4 conferences, 9 round tables, 3 discussion clubs, 5 sections, meeting of the Club of IT-Directors of the Nizhny Novgorog Region, meeting of the Council of Chief Informatization Designers of the Russian Federation, Russian Internet Forum, Russian final of Imagine Cup international contest. Finalists of the regional contest “The Best IT Project” will be announced. It is planned that over 1,5 thousand people will take part in the forum: representatives of all the regions and of 16 federal structures: ministries, agencies, as well as foreign representatives. There will be a collective stand of the Government of the Nizhny Novgorog Region on the theme “Electronic Government” and a collective stand “Russian Regions” on the same theme.
The III ITForum will take place in Nizhny Novgorog on April 7-9, 2010. It is the largest IT event of the year. Its main topic in 2010 will be the creation of information society in Russia.
Government of the Nizhny Novgorog Region together with the Government of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation, Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications, Federal Agency for Information Technologies, Committee on Information Policy, Information Technologies, and Communication of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Federal Council Commission on Information Policy will take part in organization of the forum.
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