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Ministry of Education and Science Newsletter, May '16
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Liliya Hrynevych, Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine

My personal strategic goal is - to create a system of education that will help your child, regardless of his or her origin and abilities to become successful and find their place in life and for adults - to create opportunities for lifelong learning."

 
Only educated people can be truly free. So said the ancient Greeks and it is true today. The only question is - What should modern education be like? The model of innovation-based economic development, adopted as a basis by most developed countries, is today driving the whole progressive world to transform their educational concepts. This is a global process which we can not ignore. Ukrainian education policy must move towards an improvement in the quality of educational content taking into account the needs of the market and the demands of society.
Today in Ukraine, the education as well as the scientific research field has accumulated a number of systemic problems, which may only be resolved by means of an overall "reset" of the the system. This is the task we are working on now.   

Updating the content of school education = NEW UKRAINIAN SCHOOLS
Our educational content is hopelessly outdated. Today the entire civilized world is focused on making education serve the real needs of everyday life, instead of focusing on static theoretical information which continues to expand in breadth and complexity.

Modernizing school education is a key step towards reforming the educational sector. I see this as a transition from the reproduction of information received to system which equips children with competencies that will be useful for decision-making in everyday life. This means teaching students to independently analyze information, think critically, quickly adapt to change, to work as a team and so on. The Concept of New Ukrainian Schools will provide significant relief for children and place an emphasis on mastering the competences necessary for the XXI century as generally recognized by European Union countries.

It is particularly important, that after completing school, our students are able to communicate in the national language and at least one foreign language, have a high level of mathematical literacy are aware of science and technology, ready to use ICT in their daily lives and are prepared for lifelong learning. An equally important part of these competencies are social skills and the ability to communicate effectively, participate in civil society, posses skills of entrepreneurship, general cultural and ecological literacy and acceptance of a healthy lifestyle. It certainly will require teachers to be aware modern approaches, methods and different criteria for the assessment of knowledge. Teachers need to be prepared to fundamentally change the approach to teaching both in higher education institutions for teacher training and during the course of regular professional development. We have a long way to go from the current model where the teacher takes a dominant and authoritarian position and transmits information to children to a model where the child is at the center and the teacher is a partner, moderator and important adult reference person providing support.

On 13 June, the draft concept for New Ukrainian Schools was discussed with the Civic Council of the Ministry of Education and Science. The final presentation of the concept will be held in late July, in order to allow teachers to discuss the document at August conferences. The concept will form the basis of the new Law "On General School Education" because the current one does not meet modern requirements. The new standards and new approaches in school education will be introduced gradually from 2018, after thorough trial testing.

However, our children are already learning today and we can not make changes only for those who will enroll in school in 2018.

Therefore we have launched a parallel process of streamlining the existing curriculum of primary schools. I wish to stress, that this streamlining process does not constitute a mindless reduction in information, but instead is based on the selection of the most important information and its logical consequences, the exclusion of topics that are duplicated simultaneously in several subjects and the introduction of a competence-based approach.

For the first time, the streamlining process is completely transparent. We have decided on an "interactive" streamlining process which is publicly accessible on the education platform EdEra, where everyone can take part in the public discussion of current curricula for respective subjects in primary schools. All comments will be reviewed by working groups and the updated curriculum will again be on display for public comment. Note that the working groups were set up in a transparent manner. All interested educators and experts were able to complete the online application with a cover letter. We received over 360 applications for working groups which will also operate online.

After streamlining of curricula has been completed, the EdEra platform will also be used to distribute freely accessible information on educational best-practices, video tutorials and workshops to help teachers learn how to implement a competency based approach.

In parallel, the Ministry together with the Institute for the modernization of educational content is developing an internet portal, which can be used to collect and place in the public domain all training information in various forms - textbooks, teaching materials, innovative techniques, video tutorials and video courses.

We understand that even the best school can not work without motivated teachers. Currently the salary for school teachers in the highest category is lower than the salary of an assistant lecturer in a higher education institution. This is unfair. The draft law "On Education" has set out the right approach to determining teacher salaries, but its practical implementation will take time. My position is to systematically raise salaries for teachers in line with current pay-scales. This is a personal goal for me, because otherwise changes in the system will take place only slowly. We want to implement this mechanism already in the budget for 2017.

Our children should have equal access to quality education
The Ministry of Education firmly maintains the position that the temporarily occupied territories of Crimea and Donbass which are not under control be the government be reintegrated into a unified Ukraine. For this reason we need the children from these areas to have the opportunity to study in Ukraine and grew up as patriots of their country.

Given this, we, together with municipal governments, support the creation of appropriate conditions children from such territories. "Crimea-Ukraine" centers have been set up at 10 universities for children from Crimea, who can not take part in this year's EIT. There they will be able to gain access to higher education, to confirm their documents pass state final examinations and have the opportunity to be admitted to higher education institutions in Ukraine.

For children living in the uncontrolled territory of Donbass, "Donbass-Ukraine" centers will be established at the evacuated universities from Donetsk and Luhansk regions, so that children are able to receive certificates of secondary education and are able to pass exams in a number of state universities.

Under special supervision of the Ministry, the organization of consolidated schools and the provision of supplies and equipment is also being organized. Almost 10,000 students are studying in consolidated schools which are already in operation and from 1 September they will be joined by more than 11,000 pupils including about 1,000 children who are currently enrolled in individual schooling. We are currently strongly supporting the regions in their preparations for the new school year. In this context, we must also resolve a number of legal issues related to amending the Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers and Orders that govern the activities of schools, their structure, the status of branches, the proportion of budget co-financing for the purchase of buses and more. In particular, the government has changed the proportion of co-financing the purchase of school buses. Local governments can receive a contribution of up to 70% from the state budget for their purchase.

A very important issue is providing quality education to children with special needs. We are now introducing a network of schools with inclusive education, including on the basis of consolidated schools and are providing appropriate training for teachers. We have achieved an increase of 2.5 times the ratio of funding for students with special needs in inclusive school classes and resolved the issue of payment to teaching staff, including assistant teachers in classes with inclusive education. Also this year, 24 titles of new textbooks for children with special needs will be published at the expense of the state budget.

System-wide solutions for vocational and higher education
One of the important priorities for the Ministry in 2016 is the modernization of vocational education. We wish to transfer vocational education institutions to regional funding, as well to regional centers with a population exceeding 200,000 people. In proposals for the new draft law "On vocational education" we have suggested the idea of ​​financing vocational education from several sources including the state budget, regional and municipal budgets and contributions from business. Educational subsidies should be made available following the completion of secondary education. For professions with significant skills shortages of national importance, publicly funded places should be provided for by the central government. Regionally funded places are also planned (for the needs of the regional labor market) as well as sectoraly financed places (by ministries, agencies and businesses). Vocational training is currently in crisis due to underfunding as part of ill-considered changes during the passage of the State Budget for 2016. At the same time, we are resolving the problem of inconsistency between professions for which training is provided in vocational training centers, the duplication of specializations and the obsolescence vocational training standards. We are actively working on this together with experts, the general public, municipal governments and businesses.

The Ministry continues to implement the Law of Ukraine "On Higher Education" and has begun to develop new standards for the content of higher education. These standards will be universal, but the methods of their implementation in curricula and and cross-disciplinary subjects can be chosen independently by respective universities. As a result we are strengthening the autonomy of universities.

The reform will enable students to manage their education and focus not on the educational process but instead on its outcome. We also believe that the introduction of independent testing results upon graduating from university will remove the corruption component and provide for more objective training of professionals through higher education.

Of course, it is important to build a "bridge" between the labor market and the education system. Today businesses often spend a lot of money and time to "train" or "retrain" new graduates. In the new law "On Education" we suggested an institutional platform for dialogue between employer institutions and the National Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education. Based on this, we will provide employers with access to the establishment of educational requirements and competencies and will encourage businesses to actively participate in the development of education in general.

The present system of research funding in Ukraine will be reformed to become more progressive.
To determine the main directions of scientific research in Ukraine, an independent audit of the national system of research and innovation is currently being carried out within the framework of the "Horizon 2020" project, the first results of which should be ready by the end of 2016.

At the end of last year, the Law of Ukraine "On Scientific and Scientific-Technical Activity" was adopted, which established benchmarks for financing Ukrainian scientific research which are both clear and close to the European benchmarks. This means increasing funding for scientific research from all sources to 3 percent of the gross domestic product by 2025 as defined in the Lisbon strategy of the European Union.

Today the Ministry continues intensive work on the implementation of this law. In particular, the establishment of the National Council for Science and Technology will change the system of management for scientific research making it more transparent. The National Research Foundation of Ukraine will already begin work in 2017, and will be an additional source of support for promising research projects by Ukrainian scientists. The National Council on Science and Technology will evaluate the projects submitted for financing by the Fund, the main criteria being their scientific value. Funding will be available for individual projects as well as projects by institutes, laboratories and universities. Ukrainian scientific research has never before been funded according to such principles.

The National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine also needs to be reformed of course, but I'm not a supporter of sudden radical change. Under the new law, the Academy must make provision for the rotation of leading members and establish more democratic control mechanisms. It is important to encourage young scientists, including those participating in or involved in the management of international research projects.

We are also committed to mobilize our university research in support of the defense industry. This year a Coordinating Council should be established, whose main function is to coordinate all research in the defense sector not only in the Ministry but in all scientific institutions.

We have many examples of scientific innovation. The National Technical University of Ukraine "Kyiv Politechnical Institute", with the support of private investors on the basis of a manufacturing company, built and further modified a Spectator-M class MINI unmanned aircraft (according to NATO classification), scientists of the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine developed a special product - a mixture that fireproofs military camouflage uniforms and the Institute of Physical Chemistry and Institute of Physics and Materials Science of Ukraine developed dressing for wounds and burns based hydrogels. Similarly, scientists of the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine jointly with military physicians have over the past two years built a completely new system of operational medical care for the wounded. This really shows the great potential of domestic scientific research which must be maintained. We have many talented and active young scientists who can develop unique ideas and wish to participate in international research and grant programs.
 
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On May 24, 2016 new "Sanitary regulations for pre-school educational institutions" entered into force - a document that regulates the organization and operation of kindergartens, both public and private ownership. The new version of the "Sanitary regulations ..." makes it easier to open new preschools, because it removes over-regulation and detailed requirements.
Such simplification should encourage the emergence of more private preschools (full-day kindergartens, part-day groups, etc.) and solve the problem of insufficient places in institutions for preschoolers.
 
Now, kindergartens are permitted not only in special buildings with their own surrounding premises but also in residential and commercial buildings. The new "sanitary regulations ..." have relinquished the requirement of a separate catering area for preschools, thus allowing the use services for the delivery of prepared food from suppliers subject to the Law of Ukraine "On basic principles and requirements for safety and quality of food." Similar requirements apply to the quality and safety of drinking water provided to preschools.    

Preschools are now permitted not to have or continue to maintain a separate laundry. Laundry can be outsourced, "except to laundries serving health-care institutions dealing with infectious diseases, chemical facilities and other hazardous industries".

A new addition to the "sanitary regulations ..." is the authorization to install air conditioners and humidifiers ( "new systems affecting the room temperature") in preschools. Now conditioners and humidifiers may be installed in preschools following the written consent of parents (guardians) and subject to the condition of ensuring timely maintenance and replacement of consumables.

An important innovation is also the cancellation of the requirement for a "three-day" certificate from a pediatrician that was previously required when children did not attend kindergarten for more than three consecutive days, even if they had not been sick and were healthy at the time of returning to kindergarten. Obtaining this certificate required extra time and effort on the part of parents. Under the new "sanitary regulations ..." children returning to preschool after a temporary absence for other reasons are readmitted without medical certificates "in the absence of obvious signs of illness".
 
At the same time kindergartens are prohibited from using their grounds, buildings, structures, etc. for the benefit of "other legal and natural persons" for purposes not related to training, education and the care of children.

Overall, the new "sanitary regulations ..." contains complete and high standards for the health and safety of children, while simplification applies only to excessive detail and bureaucracy.
 
News section on the MES website
Information on the MES website
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This year's admissions campaign will last from 11 to 28 July and will have a number of features including:
Students will be selected based on the new single classification of subjects and areas of specialization , which corresponds to International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) approved by UNESCO. This will positively influence the future academic and professional trajectory of graduates, as extended areas of specialization provide more opportunities for academic mobility and employment.
 
2016 will be the last year when Bachelor's degree graduates may enroll in further education at the qualification level "Specialist". Starting from next year, Bachelor's degree graduates may only enroll in Master's degree courses in accordance with the law "On Higher Education".   

The maximum number of applications that a high-school graduate may file has been maintained at 15 overall. At the same time, restrictions have been removed which previously placed a limit on the number of universities to which applicants could apply. Applications may now be submitted to various universities. However the maximum number of areas of specialization remains limited to no more than five. Like last year, students can determine the order of priority for their applications - from 1 (most desirable area of specialization and higher education institution) to 15.
 
EIT Certificates earned in 2016 are valid only during the course of the 2016 admissions campaign. In the future, the Ministry of Education plans to extend the duration of validity of test certificates to several years after the relevant standardization of tests.
 
Henceforth applicants (other than persons admitted based on the results of entrance examinations or interviews) may apply only in electronic form.
 
ATO participants and persons residing in temporarily occupied territories not under the control of Ukrainian authorities may participate in an additional testing session. ATO participants defending the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine who are being demobilized this year and did not have time to register for EIT testing, can be admitted based on the results of entrance examinations.
 
Orphans and persons suffering from illnesses preventing them from participating in EIT (Ukrainian Center for Educational Quality Assessment is not able to provide the right conditions that would allow them to pass tests) may also be admitted based on examination results.
 
Given the demographic situation, including a 15% reduction in the number of high-school graduates compared to last year, the number of publicly funded places has been reduced by 10.8%. As a result, this year's graduates higher chances for admission to a biblically financed ( "budget") place compared to their peers graduating in previous years. The principle fir distributing publicly financed places has also been changed, with more "budget" going to higher education institutions, which are able to attract graduates with the best EIT test results.
 
News section on the MES website
Section "2016 Admissions Campaign" on the MES website
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What is the "pass - fail" threshold?

How to interpret results obtained according to the rating scale?

What are the benefits for high-school graduates and universities?
The first results for this year's external independent testing have become available, for compulsory subjects including Ukrainian language and literature and mathematics or history of Ukraine (optional). For each of these subjects, professional committees of the Ukrainian Center for Educational Quality Assessment (UCEQA) established "cut-off scores" or "pass-fail" thresholds. The "cut-off score" is the minimum number of test points that can be obtained by a minimally prepared high-school graduate. For example, participants in the Mathematics tests could achieve a maximum of 62 points, whilst to clear the "pass-fail" threshold, participants needed to score at least 9 points. Thus the "cut-off score" for maths was 9 points. Similarly the cut-off score was determined for History of Ukraine (25 points out of a maximum 94) and Ukrainian Language and Literature (23 out of 104).   

"Pass-fail threshold scores" are necessary to establish the minimum level of knowledge required, for a person to enroll as a student and receive a higher education qualification. High-school graduates who scored lower than the cut-off score will not be permitted to participate in the admissions campaign. In determining the "pass-fail" threshold score for each subject, the probability of students guessing the correct answer for a certain number of questions was also taken into account.
 
This year "cut-off scores" in the three EIT subjects were exceeded by: 91% of test participants for Ukrainian Language and Literature, 87% of test participants for the History of Ukraine and 85% of test participants in Mathematics. Later all the participants who exceeded the "cut-off score" will be able to participate in the admissions campaign to higher education institutions in Ukraine.
 
As the number of points which can obtained differs from one EIT subject to another, the "threshold score" also differs. Therefore the UCEQA center has developed an equivalence scale of obtained scores from 100 to 200, where 100 represents the minimum "cut-off score" (for example 23 for Ukrainian language and literature) and 200 represents the maximum possible score and corresponds to the maximum number of points (for example 104 for Ukrainian language and literature). This means if a high-school graduate scored 104 test points on the Ukrainian language and literature test, the corresponding EIT test result would be 200. If another high-school graduate scored 23 points in the Ukrainian language and literature test, the EIT result would be 100. A similar EIT result is determined for other subjects, taking into account the established "cut-off score" and the highest possible score.
 
This system of rating scales allows the establishment of a ranking table with the relevant testing scores and provide information on how many participants (as a percentage of the total) received a a respective rating assessment. This will help high-school graduates understand how competitive their result is and allow university selection committees to predict demand for the areas of specialization offered by their higher education institutions. For example, you can calculate that the number applicants who passed the Ukrainian language and literature test with the highest possible score for the 2016 EIT is 66 individuals (without taking into consideration a possible appeal against the results).
 
You can familiarize yourself with the ranking tables of EIT 2016 participants on the 100-200 points scale for Ukrainian language and literature , Mathematics and History of Ukraine on the website of the Ukrainian Center for Educational Quality Assessment.
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The Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, together with the USAID "Fair Justice" project, the OSCE Project Coordinator in Ukraine and nine Ukrainian universities is launching a pilot project of entrance examinations in the form of EIT for Master of Laws programs.
External independent testing (EIT) has proven its effectiveness for admission to Bachelor's programs, ensuring a transparent and fair mechanism for competitive selection. This year EIT technology will be used for admission to Master's programs in the field of "Law" for the first time. Reform of legal education is an important factor for a successful reform of the law enforcement and judicial systems, as this will allow for the quality training of new professionals in this field.     

In addition, the experience gained from EIT testing for entry to Master of Laws programs can be used for competitive selection of Master´s degree students in other fields for programs which are subject to certain level of standardization without prejudice to the autonomy of educational institutions. For Bachelor's degree graduates wishing to pursue their studies at university, this practice provides additional advantages, one of them being the ability to enroll in a Master's program in one of the nine universities participating in the pilot project including:

-           Open International University of Human Development "Ukraine "
-           Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv
-           Ivan Franko National University of Lviv
-           National Technical University of Ukraine "Kyiv Polytechnic Institute"
-           National University of "Kyiv-Mohyla Academy"
-           National University "Odessa Law Academy"
-           Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University
-           Odessa National Maritime University
-           Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University

A section has been created on the site of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, containing the legal-normative basis for the project, answers to frequently asked questions and other useful materials, which applicants should familiarize themselves with. First of all, Bachelor of Laws graduates should:

-       Read the Regulation on the conduct of entrance examinations, approved by MES Order no.500 from 12/05/2016 ;
-           Read the Program with rules, approved by MES Order no. 409 from 08/04/2016 ;
-       Read the program for English-language, approved by MES Order no. 1121 from 10/01/2014 ( Can be downloaded from the UCEQA website).
-           View the presentation "Entry tests for Master's programs in law using EIT technology"
 
News section on the MES website
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What is the Program of International Student Assessment PISA?
 
What subject matter is tested and how is assessment conducted as part of PISA?
 
Why is participating in PISA important for Ukraine?
PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) is a study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and involving more than 70 countries. The study is in the form of tests and determines how school students perform in reading skills, mathematics and science knowledge and most importantly how well they are able to apply this knowledge in practice.
 
PISA studies have been conducted every three years since the year 2000. Accordingly, with results every three years, you can not only see the current picture, but also track the dynamics in different countries. Each of the three components of the study (mathematics, reading, science) is tested separately and has its own rating. As a result, each country that participated in the study, has three separate ranking positions - one for each of the subjects.    

PISA places special emphasis in its studies on the fact that they test the ability of pupils to use applied knowledge. For example, when testing reading skills, the question may be to read the instructions for international calls from a hotel room and correctly interpret them. For the study of mathematics proficiency the ability to correctly calculate the best option the use of funds in a particular situation is tested.
 
Ukraine has never participated in these studies and after joining the program (in November 2015) will obtain the first results in 2018.
 
Practical preparations are currently underway in Ukraine ahead of participation in PISA in 2018 and are being carried out by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, Ukrainian Center for Educational Quality Assessment and the Institute for Education Analysis.
 
Participation in PISA is important for Ukraine, because it will shape education policy in secondary education more efficiently, based on reliable data and the experience of other countries participating in the program.
 
News section on the MES website
Interview with Fernando Cartwright, an advisor to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, on Ukraine's participation in the PISA program
More on Ukraine's participation in PISA
 
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What is the Euratom program? Why is participating in this program important for Ukraine?
 
What are the specific financing terms of Ukraine's participation in the Euratom program?
In a decree from 1 June 2016, the Government of Ukraine approved the text of the draft agreement with the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) on scientific and technological cooperation and association of Ukraine in the Euroatom program of research and training (2014-2018) and authorized the Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine to sign the said agreement.
 
Euratom is an EU research program aimed at research and teaching in the field of nuclear energy. Participation in the "Euratom" program is extremely important for Ukraine because it:    

-       creates new opportunities for Ukrainian researchers, promotes the internationalization of Ukrainian scientific research;
-        strengthens the state´s position of the field of security, particularly with regard to nuclear research, nuclear waste disposal and environmental issues related to nuclear energy;
-        represents an important stage in the European integration of the country.
 
Ukraine's associate membership in the "Euratom" program provides for financial contributions that will be calculated individually for each subsequent year, depending on the GDP of the participating states.
 
Ukraine received unique financial terms of its involvement - given the current economic situation and the regime of fiscal austerity, the EU gave Ukraine a discount of 95% of the fee for the duration of the program until 2018, and the ability to transfer payment for 2016 to coming years.
 
The total budget of the Euratom of research and training program is 1.6 billion euros. The Euratom program is associated with the program "Horizon 2020" - the Framework Program for Research and Innovation, with a budget of 80 billion euros of which Ukraine is an associate member.

News section on the MES website
Website of the Euroatom Research and Training Program
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In the process of setting up a consolidate territorial communities, municipal authorities have any questions relating, in particular, to the management in education, including: a new division of roles and responsibilities, access to quality school education in the community, organization of basic schools and branches. Specialists of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine will advise municipal authorities via a telephone helpline which will operate on specified days during the summer months.
On 2 June, the first day of operation for the hotline, questions from representatives of local municipalities were answered by Deputy Minister for Education and Science Pavlo Khobzey and an expert to the project "Support to Decentralisation in Ukraine" Aider Seyitosmanov.
The next days of operation for the hotline will be: 2, 16 and 30 June, 7 and 21 July from from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The number for the hotline is: 044 486 24 42    

Answers will be provided by: Deputy Minister of Education Paul Khobzey, employees of Department School Education, experts from the Swedish-Ukrainian project "Support to Decentralisation in Ukraine".
Questions related to the organization and management of networks of educational institutions can be addressed to otg@mon.gov.ua
Answers will be published on the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine www.mon.gov.ua in the section "Consolidated Schools" .
 
News section on the MES website
Information about education reform on the website of the project "Support to Decentralisation in Ukraine"
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