The Law on Education
The newest Federal Law on Education in Russian Federation No. 273-FZ was adopted on 29 December 2012 and entered into force on 1 September 2013. Unlike educational legislation of most western democracies, Russian laws are focused mainly on economics, management and administration of education, rather than on pure educational relationships involving interaction between a school, a teacher and a student in the process of transmitting and acquiring knowledge and skills. Legal regulation of a broad variety of vital rights and responsibilities of students and teachers are delegated to sub-legal normative acts, or to regional, municipal or even local legislative level. Moreover, procedural issues are provided with rather poor legislative support, if any . As a result, judicial remedies of infringed rights are far from being adequate or effective.
Traditionally, educational legislation features an endeavor for equilibrium between private and public interests. For the last 10-15 years the latter was gradually yielding its prevailing position in favor of the former. Authoritative methods of regulating educational activities give way to discretional contract-based regulation of an educational ‘service’. For example, limited availability of municipal kindergartens in a number of Russian regions is compensated by intensification of liaison between local authorities and private pre-school organisations on provision of free places subsidised from the local budget on a contractual basis.
The effectiveness of educational legislation in Russia is conditional to its clarity, comprehensiveness, and enforceability. Recent socio-economic metamorphoses had a remodeling effect on different areas of legislation. Permutations of civil, administrative, revenue, employment law combined with participation of Russia in international integration processes have led inevitably to changes in the way the educational activity is carried out. Incongruity between existing educational legislation and the demanded level of quality and integrity of legal norms became evident. The need to level out these differences have resulted in constant alteration of the two basic laws on education: since the moment of their initial enactment more than 200 initiatives have been filed with the Russian Parliament evolving in more than 70 amendment laws.
Reduction of declarative norms, refinement of distribution of powers and quality control procedures are among the unquestionable positive outcomes of ad hoc adjustment of the laws; still, they are characterised by internal and external collisions, excessive replication and redundancy, as well as lack of effective means of enforcement, as illustrated by the case law and complaints filed with the Federal Centre for Educational Legislation.
Due to the reasons stated above the Ministry of Education and Science has chosen the ‘integration and re-processing’ type of systematisation of educational legislation with the aim to accomplish the thoroughgoing modernisation of educational legislation in compliance with the contemporary standards of legitimisation and with view to the existing demands of individuals and the society for quality and adequate education.
Russian educational legislation has recently undergone complex revising. It took more than 10 years to elaborate the new Federal Law on Education; its finalised draft has been adopted by the State Duma – the Parliament of Russian Federation – on December 29, 2012.
Initially, the new law had had to offer several revolutionary changes both in respect to administration of educational system and the contents of education as such. To ‘sweeten the pill’, the Ministry has started to introduce them one-by-one into the legislation in vigor. Thus, by the date of enactment of the new law most of its novelties will already have been working for a certain period of time.
Undoubtedly, one of the most remarkable accomplishments of the new law is aggrandisement of those rights and freedoms of teachers and students that were previously guaranteed by sub-legal acts. This transformation secures advanced enforceability under the law to protect from illegal suspension and dismissal, from violations during admission, attestation, licensing, accreditation and other procedures.
Chapter 11 of the new law serves to exemplify the previous statement, for it contains twelve articles, each devoted to a particular category of students and / or courses previously lacking any adequate legal fixation at all or handled by typical provisions, model regulations, administrative orders (even non-normative letters!) and other acts of subordinate legislation. Thus, higher legal guarantees will be provided to foreign students, disabled, incarcerated, students with outstanding abilities, students of military academies, art schools, medical schools, and flight schools, to name but the few.
The new law also addresses other vital problems of contemporary education law and legislation:
1) the need for complex renewal of Russian education system with due regard to the current needs of an individual, the society and the state, as well as to the demands of innovative economy and Russia’s international obligations in terms of education;
2) the need for a systematical and comprehensive legal support of the social relations in education;
3) the need to enhance substantially the regulatory device of education legislation by means of improving the technology of legal drafting, eliminating unnecessary repetition, redundancy and misinterpretation, minimising sub-legislative regulation of essential rights and freedoms, and securing direct application of the law.