Fourth panel at the „Freedom and Reform“ conference dealt with problems in education and ways to reform educational system in Serbia.
Igor Popov from Khan Academy stated that, although we live in a period of transformation of education, it has not yet been touched by internet. „New focus of educational system, new metaskill that should be ahead of specific skill we learn – that should be the answer to question „how to learn“? Changing jobs and professions, we need to adapt“, said Popov and stressed that classic method of grading should be questioned. „Grades should be abolished, models of education and alternatives are plenty. We need to include a system of motivation. Pupils should insist on quality of knowledge, without wasting time on negative consequences of an ancient concept of grading“, concluded Popov.
Jasmina Nikolić, expert for high education reform, said that formal education was efficient in one moment of history, when knowledge was based on reductionism, for the need of that time. „We live in a time of paradigm change, which goes quite slow. Information is a cause for paradigm change. First change was about transforming audial to written form-culture. Next was transformation to printed culture, and now we are witnessing a digital revolution“, stated Nikolić and agreed with Popov that grading has become meaningless and unnecessary.
Jovana Tripunović from Belgrade Open School stressed the importance of transparency in education. „Corruption spills over from high education to all other segments of education, and value transfer has been compromised. System reform can be compared with graveyard moving – those on the inside do not help“, concluded Tripunović and attributed part of responsibility for absence of reforms to good professors and private faculties which did not voice their revolt when they learned of their corrupted colleagues, bribed or giving out diplomas.
Professor at the Faculty of Political Science and Nova Party MP at the National Assembly, Vladimir Pavićević outlined his speech in five key points contemplating condition in education and reforms: „First one is the significance of assembly. Second – acknowledgment of importance of education. Third is the program presentation. Fourth – recognizing the destruction of schooling system. Fifth point was 41 practical measure for 8 goals in 5 subsystems of education, offered by Nova Party“, explained Pavićević.
Program Director of Research Department at Libek, Mihailo Gajić, suggested introduction of voucher system – direct financing of pupils instead of institutions. „This measure was introduced in Sweden, Denmark, Chile and partly in USA. Purpose of voucherization is to introduce competition in order to increase quality and decrease costs. Voucherization goes to favor of poor and gifted pupils. If something is „free“, it doesn’t mean it is cheap. Annual elementary schooling costs 190 000 RSD per pupil“, said Gajić and explained that the key cause of such statistics is the great number of employees. „Number of children in elementary schools has decreased by a third since 2010, and in the same period number of employees grew by a fifth“, concluded Gajić and as greatest obstacles in the way of voucherization named unions, the Ministry and political perception of key political actors.