Pay and conditions, politics and pupil motivation are hot issues not only here but in Russia. Nikolai Nechaev, President Yeltsin's education adviser, said last week after visiting schools in Lanarkshire at the invitation of Motherwell Enterprise: "Respect for the student is very important for us in our changing system. It is more important than politeness."
Professor Nechaev and his wife Galina, who acted as interpreter, were struck by the maturity of pupils here. "The teacher leaves them alone and just supervises or acts as a consultant."
The problem of motivating less academic pupils is a major concern for Russian teachers. About 80 per cent of the curriculum is obligatory. "As a result a large group of students who do not progress well and feel disaffected are poorly motivated. Our position now is to make the education process more differentiated."
Funding crises make Scotland's problems appear insignificant. Some Russians have not been paid for months, or receive potatoes and other produce. "Younger teachers especially do not want to get such small salaries," Professor Nechaev said.
The 51-year-old general academic secretary of the Russian Academy of Education praised enterprise education in schools. "We can understand entrepreneurship in different ways. The first meaning which comes to the Russian mind is an adventurer, or it may be understood as a new way of life for which we should be well prepared."