The Center for the Economics of Continuing Education of the RANEPA Institute of Applied Economic Research (IAER) performs annual monitoring of the efficiency of school education. The COVID-19 pandemic has made significant changes in the functioning and development of the educational system, which makes the analysis of the challenges and consequences an urgent research problem. Taking into account the tasks of the national project "Education" and the measures of the state program of the Russian Federation "Development of Education", eliminating the third shift in school education and achieving single-shift educational process is a significant characteristic of the state of the general education system. The main goal of the study is to assess the current state of regional general education systems, identifying and minimizing risks in achieving the targets. The objectives of this work are to analyze the organization of educational process in the Russian regions in the context of urban and rural settlements; analyze the changes in relation to the prepandemic situation at the beginning of the 2019/20 academic year. Research methods include analysis of open statistical data, comparison and generalization of the results. The main conclusions of the study are as follows: the problem of second-shift education for schoolchildren in rural areas is less acute than in urban areas; the proportion of schoolchildren in the third shift in rural schools is higher than in urban educational organizations; the pandemic had a negative impact on the mode of education – the increase in the number of schoolchildren studying in the second shift exceeded the growth in the number of schoolchildren in educational organizations by 12.2% in cities and by 87.4% in rural settlements. The results of the study can be used in the interests of the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation, education authorities of the Russian Federation for assessing the state of regional systems of school education, forecasting the development of regional systems of school education in the medium term to ensure the validity of management decisions in this area in the face of epidemiological and economic instability.
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