Pioneer Promotes Enhanced ICT Education and Training
Never wavering from her path, G.N. Shvetsova's entire career has been devoted to education, first as a diligent student, then as a professor at the Mari State University and Mari Extension Course Institute for Teachers in the Mari El Republic of Russia. She received a degree in teaching English from Mari State Pedagogic Institute and has been awarded the degrees of Doctor and Professor of Pedagogies from Chuvash State Pedagogic University. In 1994, Shvetsova founded the first non-state higher education institution in the Mari El Republic, and since 2001, she has served as the Minister of Education and Science for the region.
The purpose of any educational initiative in Russia, Shvetsova says, is to provide education for every child in a comfortable, safe, healthy environment with qualified teachers—providing academic programs that can ensure the students' future success: "Education has always been the most important priority of our government." Considered a progressive Russian region in education (and located 513 miles from Moscow), Mari El Republic aligns its education system with business needs.
Networking Academy Contributes to Mari El's Goals
Cisco Networking Academy, instituted in Mari El in 2010, fits well with the republic's educational goals. Shvetsova says, "Networking Academy provides Information and Communications Technology (ICT) knowledge and skills that are in demand by businesses."
Currently, Mari El is implementing new federal and state educational standards to improve its regional educational system. Distance education and e-learning are powerful tools that are transforming education and helping develop the existing network of educational institutions. Technology can provide educational institutions with up-to-date training aids, hardware, and software. Networking Academy helps address these objectives.
Worldwide Collaboration and Up-to-Date Technology Tools
Cisco Networking Academy provides teachers with the opportunity to share experiences with their colleagues worldwide, participate in webinars and master classes, and expand Internet use in their professional activity. Students benefit from instruction that is based on current technology. Shvetsova notes: "Networking Academy students receive an opportunity to study with the most up-to-date educational technologies. Of all the training programs from various ICT companies, Cisco's Networking Academy is the most comprehensive."
Networking Academy is part of many city and village schools of the Mari El Republic. At some schools it is fully or partially integrated into the informatics and ICT curriculum; at other schools it is a separate course. "We intend to increase the number of participating educational institutions," Shvetsova says. There are 23 institutions in the republic that teach ICT through Networking Academy courses, and more than 500 students are participating.
ICT: A Major Element in Russia
The government of the Russian Federation is actively implementing ICT in the administration systems of its states and businesses, as well as in the lives of its citizens. Preparing teachers for applying ICT in their professional activities is one of the principal focuses for the regional educational systems. A resulting objective is training and educating students for employment in networking and information technologies in public and private sectors of the economy, as well as for further education in engineering, computing, and other technical fields. Shvetsova states: "Cisco Networking Academy is training personnel for the innovation economy."
Networking Academy Graduates Find Jobs
Shvetsova describes results of Networking Academy in Mary El: "Graduates who took Cisco CCNA and CCNP networking courses in the republic's training and certification center for IT professionals have found ICT employment. This has changed their lives because they are engaged in work they have trained for and enjoy."
For example, one of the CCNA students, Oleg Tarasenko, became the CIO of a local IT company called Kontur. After becoming CIO, one of the first things he did was to hire the rest of the CCNA group to work for his department.
When asked about the primary outcomes of the Networking Academy in Mari El Republic, Shvetsova replies: "Great strides have been made toward modernization of the educational system in the republic. The motivation level in both teachers and students in studying ICT has significantly increased. I consider it a good result for the first year of Networking Academy in the Mari El Republic. In addition, other regions of the Russian Federation are interested in Networking Academy. Guided by our experience, they want to initiate their own programs in cooperation with Cisco."