May 26, 2016

Education: Competing Against the World


School is compulsory only through the ninth grade, but about 90% of Russians go on to the upper secondary level..

Amy Keller | 8/1/2006

Zarina Falakhova, 16
Gymnasium Number 77
Naberezhnye, Russia

Family: Zarina's mother is a doctor at the local military draft office. Her father is the director of a company that sells mineral water. She has an 11-month-old sister.

Courses: Geometry, algebra, physical education, Tatar language, Tatar literature, Russian, Russian literature, geography, English, American studies, history, physics, chemistry, psychology, biology, computing science and social studies.

School year: Sept. 1 to May 31.

Lunch: Russian students get about 20 minutes for lunch. Typical fare consists of juice, tea or cocoa, mashed potatoes, different porridges (with meatballs, sausages, chicken, fish), bread, macaroni, rice, fruit and vegetables.

Dreams of America

Zarina Falakhova dreams about one day studying in the United States. In the meantime, she's found other uses for her English. It comes in handy when she's listening to hit songs by Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and German pop idol Sarah Connor.

In addition to English, which is required learning in Gymnasium Number 77, Zarina takes American studies and participates in the production of a teenage magazine called Online, which features information about American culture, students and education. A gymnasium is more selective than a regular Russian high school and has a curriculum focused on the humanities.

She also studies Tatar, the local language of the Republic of Tatarstan. Her hometown of Naberezhnye Chelny is the second largest city in the Republic of Tatarstan. The industrial city, approximately 600 miles east of Moscow, is known for its auto-manufacturing plant, but Zarina dreams of working abroad rather than in the Kamaz truck factory.

Zarina has planned on going to college since she was 13. She will graduate next year at the end of 11th grade after receiving the Attestat, a certificate of "completed general secondary education." Most of the 17 fellow students in her grade at the gymnasium also plan to attend college. About 28% of Russian students earn the equivalent of a bachelor's degree; more than 50% of adults have completed some form of post-secondary education, including technical and vocational.

Following a six- to seven-hour school day, Zarina works for about four to five hours each night on homework. She spends about as long studying each weekend and has access to a tutor when she needs one. "This year, I didn't practice with a tutor because I don't have exams, and I was confident. Every kid can have a tutor (at) my age," says Zarina.

Tags: North Central, Education

Digital Access

Add digital to your current subscription, purchase a single digital issue, or start a new subscription to Florida Trend.

An overview of the features and articles in this month's issue of Florida Trend.


Florida Business News

Florida Trend Video Pick

Where do American Presidents Go for Rest and Relaxation?
Where do American Presidents Go for Rest and Relaxation?

Before, during, and after their Oval Office duties, some American presidents found peace and quiet in Florida… and some did not.

Earlier Videos | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

What should be done so Puerto Rico can get out of debt, and avoid Greece's fate?

  • The U.S. Congress should provide a bailout
  • Amend laws so the Puerto Rico government can declare bankruptcy
  • Restructure the debt (investors take a loss)
  • Other (comments welcome)

See Results

Ballot Box