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Third Ukraine Breakfast Debate 2017: Yegor Stadny on the reforms in the education sector

The third breakfast debate within the framework of the project “Platform for Analytics and Inter­cul­tural Commu­ni­cation” (PAIC) took place at the Institute for European Politics in Berlin on 14 December. The new law “On Education” which has been adopted in September 2017 was the focus of the event. Yegor Stadny from the think tank CEDOS led into the main aspects of the education law and the education reform in Ukraine and addressed its achieve­ments and challenges.

Under the framework of the talk, three topics were presented: Reforms in school and higher education as well as the decision of the Venice Commission of 11 December 2017 on Article 7 of the education law which regulates the teaching language in schools.

The Ukrainian education reform in the field of school education aims to sustainably increase the level of schools and teaching. Therefore, profound changes are foreseen in various sectors. School education has been extended to 12 years and new skills such as critical thinking or social compe­tences are promoted. The reform plans to decrease the number of schools in rural areas, as the few pupils in sparsely populated regions suffer from low quality teaching. By bundling rural struc­tures into hub-schools the quality of teaching can be improved. The restruc­turing was accom­panied by doubling the teachers’ salaries to make the profession more attractive for young people.

In higher education, univer­sities gained more autonomy and involved students in choosing their own curriculum. By external testing for master programs, partic­u­larly in law, bribery could be dimin­ished. The external independent exam for school graduates which was intro­duced in 2004 is still a positive example which signif­i­cantly reduced the corruption in higher education. In addition, the minis­terial net of respon­si­bil­ities will be unbundled to contribute to the efficiency of the education system. Challenges remain, however, in the univer­sities’ focus on quantity of students instead of teaching quality and the “National Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education” which was founded in 2015 and still has not become operational.

As a third topic Stadny addressed Article 7 of the education law which regulates the teaching language. The Venice Commission published its decision in this regard on 11 December 2017 which was highly appre­ciated in Ukraine. The Ukrainian ministry of education thereon proposed a template for minority languages which inherits three options differ­en­ti­ating between native languages (Crimean Tatarian), EU-minority languages and Russian.

The partic­i­pants of the breakfast debate showed a high interest in the feasi­bility of the reforms. The discussed questions involved, among others, the balance of respon­si­bil­ities between the central and local admin­is­tra­tions with respect to the decen­tral­ization process, the teacher’s willingness to cooperate and the extension of research activ­ities in univer­sities as well as German-Ukrainian cooper­ation oppor­tu­nities in the education sector. Further topics included the integration of Inter­nally Displaced People into the education system, the condition of relocated univer­sities which have been moved outside of the conflict zones, and the devel­opment of vocational education in Ukraine.

Yegor Stadny is an analyst of the think tank CEDOS which involves in the analysis of public policy in the fields of education, migration, and urban devel­opment. The recently published Interview (German/Ukrainian) from the “Klartext”-series with Yegor Stadny is available here. His Power Point Slides from the debate can be accessed here.

The Ukraine Breakfast Debates take place under the project “Platform for Analytics and Inter­cul­tural Commu­ni­cation” (PAIC) at the Institute for European Politics (IEP) in Berlin. Designed as a place for discussion, experts from Ukrainian think tanks present current topics which are after­wards discussed with guests over crois­sants and coffee.

The project “Platform for Analytics and Inter­cul­tural Commu­ni­cation” (PAIC) is conducted by the Institute for European Politics e.V. (IEP, Berlin), in cooper­ation with the Inter­na­tional Renais­sance Foundation (IRF, Kiev), the der Ilko Kucheriv Democ­ratic Initia­tives Foundation (DIF, Kiev) and the think tank initiative „think  twice UA“ (Kiev), supported by the Federal foreign office of Germany in 2017–2018.