Secondary education is mandatory in Russia. Children start school at theage of 6 and finish at 17 . As a rule, a child attends the school located

in the neighborhood,the one which is the closes to home . However , there

in big cities there are also so-called "special" schools , offering more

in-depth studies of the major European languages ( English , French, or

German), or the advanced courses in physics and mathematics, and children

attending one of these may have to commute from home. There are no school

buses in Russia.

The first stage of education is elementary school for grades 1 through 4.

The second is secondary school for grades 5 through 9 . Upon graduation

from secondary school ( which is not the equivalent of having completed

their secondary education ) , students are given the choice of either

continuing to attend the same school (high school; grades 10 and 11 ), or

entering a vocational school or trade school. Both vocational school and

trade schools are meant to provide one , long with the certificate of

secondary education, with a number of useful skills ( e.g. , those of an

electrician, technical, or computer operator ).One attends the former for

two years, and the latter for three or four.

Haveing completed one's secondary education, one can either become part

of work force or go on to college ( " institution of higher learning " ).

There are universityes and so-called "institutes" in Russian . The former

stress a more teoretical , fundamental approach to education , while the

latter are more practice oriented.

There are no medical schools or departments with in the structure of

Russian universitys . Future doctors attend medical institutes. There are

no degrees in Russian equivalent to those of bachelor's or master's.

Students spend approximately five years in college or six in a medical

institute.

To be admited to an institution of higher learning , one has to pass a

series of oral and written tests. Grades in the certificate of secondary

education are also taken account.

Entry to higher education is quite competitive. Some college departments

( philologist,foreign languages-especially English,law, journalism ) have

dozens of applicants for one prospective student's position. The same is

true of medical and theatre institutes.

Up to the present, neither college students nor schoolchildren have had

any say in the selection of courses they had to take. Everyone has

studied according to uniform series of guide lines approved by the

Ministery of Higher Education . Evidently , this situation is going to

change in the near future.

Education in Russian has until recently been free on all levels. College

students with good grades were rewarded with a modest stipend . All

institutions of higher learning were subsidized by the government . Now

that the country is changing to a market-place economy, the system of

education is also bound to undergo profound changes . The first private

scholls , gymnasiums and lycees, have already been founded in Moscow and

St. Petersburg , in an attempt to revive the pre-1917 traditionals of

Russian educational system with its high standards of excellence.