The paper is devoted to the issues of social progress and conditions for its implementation, the main of which is education. The authors substantiate the topicality of the social progress study by saying that today the uncertainties and risks of sustainable development in the world are amplified. People become aware of their responsibility for the future of the whole society and they understand that meaningful actions of a large number of people have to be taken in the direction of becoming initiative and independent people who are aware of themselves as the creators of their own lives. The authors highlight the role of knowledge acquired from various cognitive systems (science, culture, art, literature, etc.) expanding the cognitive capabilities of a man and the possibilities of his/her creativity. In education, all knowledge acquired from different cognitive systems should be ‘sublimated’; it should become a civilizational institution which mission is to transform the world in the direction of social progress. The authors consider the risks of forming such an institution, including educational inequality in the quality and accessibility of education. The paper concludes that modern Russian education does not serve for social progress and not even for the market, but for financial capital.