Iryna Kohut, CEDOS analytical center In a society that has structural inequality, equal rights do not mean equality of opportunity and groups with privileges tend to exercise these, while while also transmitting their privileged status from generation to generation. Social progress implies a general increase in equality and the gradual elimination of boundaries between more and less privileged groups.
Affordable and accessible education is a key to achieving both of these goals. This is reflected in the educational component of UNESCO's sustainable development goals, which establish equal quality education for all as a priority. Effective educational policy should focus on ensuring that all participants have an equal chance to receive a good education, to follow their chosen educational and professional trajectory and lead a dignified life.
Inequalities in educational achievement may be caused by many factors: family finances, place of residence, parental education or a system of stereotypes (in particular in relation to gender, race, etc.) which are widespread in society. Moreover, these characteristics can have an influence not only the obvious manner - wealthier parents are able to pay for better schools, educational material and technology and tutoring. At the same time, parents with better education are able to help with learning and urban residents have a greater choice and schools and after-school activities. Wealth, parents' level of education, parents' occupation and place of residence - collectively referred to as socio-economic status - as well as gender, race and national (ethnic) affiliation affect children's ability to learn, their motivation and expectations on the part of parents and teachers.
The reproduction of social inequalities within the education system is the subject of constant research in high and middle-income countries. The largest-scale international comparative study of educational outcomes, PISA, includes a study of the socio-economic and educational context. Because of this, it provides key information to adequately understand and compare different educational systems and the necessary tools to develop effective educational policy.
In Ukraine, the issue of inequality and gaps in educational achievement has not been the subject of systematic research and therefore has neither been highlighted in public discussions nor in the formulation of policy. This can be attributed to several reasons, including significant cost of such studies combined with the lack of funds in research institutions and the lack of an established institutional practice in Ukraine of making decisions based on data and research.
However the latter potential cause is even more significant. Even where data, such as results of external independent testing and technical capabilities added to EIT such as a questionnaire on socio-economic status of students (as of last year all graduates who take their final state attestation in the form of EIT), the problem of inequality in secondary education remains poorly studied and understood.
One aspect of this inequality, which is the focus of educational policy-makers and the media is the gap in educational achievement between children from urban and rural schools. However, this gap by itself does not provide a clear understanding of the issue (and therefore, we do not have the opportunity to correct it). After all such inequality can be caused by different factors or a combination thereof. Currently, the most often heard explanation for this gap is the poor material-technical condition of rural schools and a lack qualified teachers or the poor level of qualifications of available staff, aging teaching staff and lack of access to tutoring services. But available statistics show that the proportion of young teachers in rural areas is in fact greater than in urban areas, while there are by contrast more teachers of retirement age in urban areas. In addition, the gap in EIT results does not only show a line of distinction between urban and rural areas. Research shows that the larger the city, the better results there are, despite the fact that finding a tutor should be just as easy in cities with over one million inhabitants as in district centers with about fifty thousand inhabitants.
It's also essential to refer to the experience of international research and studies in developed countries. These show a significant effect of social origin and learning conditions on educational outcomes, which explains both the already established gap between urban and rural areas and endeavor to identify other possible inequalities and "sore points" in the the Ukrainian education system. Inequality might be linked to gender, region of origin, disability or belonging to underprivileged ethnic groups such as Roma.
The first steps in this direction have already been undertaken. Ukraine declared its intention to join the PISA study in 2018, which will enable us not only to compare the learning outcomes of Ukrainian children with their peers from developed countries, but also to assess whether the Ukrainian educational system ensures equality. Highly regarded educational systems not only provide high performance, but also demonstrate minimal performance gaps between schools and individual students. But progress in PISA measured not only in the improvement of average results, but particularly in the progress the results of the poorest performing group of pupils. A priority for Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which conducts PISA, is to draw attention to this issue in countries around the world including Ukraine.
In addition, this year a first ever survey of school graduates participating in EIT was carried out, inquiring about their socio-economic status. This study, which is unprecedented in Ukraine, will allow us to understand how external and out-of-school factors contribute to educational outcomes as early as the pilot phase.
Education policy in Ukraine needs a boost in the form of research and information, because empirical data is the backbone of any successful reform. This applies particularly to the issue of inequality in education, which has previously received very little attention let alone efforts to resolve it. At the current time, in preparation for PISA, it is important to require policy-makers and officials to not only organize and conduct research and collect and uncover information but also to make this the basis of public discussion and policy decisions.
How does the electronic applications system work?
What are the most frequently asked questions about the admissions campaign?
Telephone hotline - Where to go with questions and complaints?
The admissions campaign begins on 11 July 2016. This refers to the acceptance of applications by Ukrainian higher education institutions, which this year is being conducted (with a few exceptions) in electronic form.
In order to better inform students on how to proceed with electronic applications, the state enterprise "Inforesurs" has developed a step by step guide, which you can read here .
The guide explains how an applicant can register online at http://ez.osvitavsim.org.ua/ , what the personal electronic filing-cabinet is, what data is mandatory for applications and how to select higher education institutions by location or by academic discipline.
SE "Inforesurs" would like to draw applicants' attention to the following points:
- Use of the "electronic application system" is reserved to applicants who have a certificate of secondary education and a certificate of participation in EIT for 2016;
- It is necessary to carefully check the correctness and accuracy of the data entered during the registration process as a successful application depends on this;
- Statistics show that the website has the greatest volume of traffic on the first day of applications (11 July) and on the last day of applications (27 July until 18:00). This may result in technical problems with the operation of the IT infrastructure which applicants should be aware of. Applicants should not worry if there are technical problems on the first day of application but should not delay the process of electronic filing to the last day.
After the process of receiving applications has been finalized, students will be selected by 12:00 on 28 July 2016.
In addition, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine has published answers to the most frequently asked questions about the admissions campaign and the requirements for admission in 2016 online. This includes questions such as:
- Which categories of applicants can submit electronic and paper applications?
- Is an additional examination required as part of the special admissions process?
- Specific conditions for admissions taking into account the new classification system of academic disciplines and areas of specialization.
- When will it be possible to submit EIT certificates from previous years?
- Specific features of admission to academic disciplines which require the holding of an artistic competition;
- A range of questions relating to the number and distribution publicly funded places.
Read the answers to frequently asked questions about the admissions campaign conditions of admission for 2016 on the site of the Ministry of Education and Science here.
The Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine wishes to remind readers that the telephone hotline for the admissions campaign will be staffed by MES officers and volunteers from the civic organization "Open Policy Foundation":
Fixed-line Number: (044) 481-3215.
Mobile number: (068) 951-2513.
Phone number for callers from Crimea and temporarily uncontrolled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions: (050) 550-54110 (800) 504-425.
Last year, the Crimean graduates who finished school after the occupation of the peninsula faced the problem of a lack of educational certificates (high-school diplomas) corresponding to the Ukrainian template. Since the Ukrainian state cannot recognize documents issued by the occupation authorities, a legal mechanism was developed, that allows residents of Crimea to receive a high-school diploma and be admitted to Ukrainian universities.
As a result, Crimeans may be admitted to all Ukrainian universities according to the general selection procedure. For this they need to make contact with a school in Ukraine (the complete list of schools can be found here) undertake state final attestation exams (SFA) and external independent testing (EIT ) and obtain a secondary education certificate. This procedure is not always possible for high-school graduates in Crimea, as there are additional difficulties associated with crossing the demarcation line and traveling to Ukrainian-controlled territory in order to participate in EIT.
In addition, students from Crimea can receive a high-school certificate according to the simplified procedure and be admitted to one of twelve Ukrainian universities based on the results of entrance exams without taking part in external independent testing. For this they must register in special "Crimea – Ukraine" educational centers, which will operate at each of these universities in the following cities: Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhya, Kherson and Mykolaiv. Once registered in one of the centers, applicants must pass a written exam on Ukrainian language and the history of Ukraine and obtain a temporary secondary education certificate (diploma) and the average score of the certificate (similar to the "average secondary-school certificate score") is calculated as the average of overall results of examinations in the two subjects. With this certificate, the applicant may be admitted to one of the 12 universities listed. Within three months, the certificate will be replaced by a secondary education certificate where all subjects will be stamped "certified".
The list of Ukrainian higher educational establishments to which high-school graduates from Crimea may be admitted according to the simplified procedure and which operate "Crimea - Ukraine" educational centers includes:
Prydniprovs’ka State Academy of Civil Engineering and Architecture
Dnipropetrovsk State Agrarian and Economic University
Zaporizhzhya National University
Petro Mohyla Black Sea National University
Lviv Institute of the "Banking University"
National University "Lviv Polytechnic"
Kharkiv Petro Vasilenko National Technical University of Agriculture
Kherson State University
Kherson National Technical University
Kherson State Maritime Academy
Taurida National V.I. Vernadsky University ( Kyiv)
Kyiv National Economic University named after Vadim Hetman
Hotline of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine for questions related to the admissions campaign for students from Crimea and Donbass: 0 (800) 504 425, +38 (050) 550-5411, +38 (068) 951 2513, (044) 481-3215.
In practice this means that such applicants can be admitted to Ukrainian higher education institutions either under the general competitive basis after sitting EIT exams or according to a simplified procedure.
Admission for high-school graduates from Donbass according to the simplified procedure differs from the standard procedure in that it allows admission only to those educational institutions Ukraine in Donetsk and Luhansk regions which are under government control, as well as those which were evacuated from areas outside government control. "Donbass - Ukraine" educational centers have been organized at each of these to provide consulting support and help high-school graduates obtain secondary education certificates conforming to the Ukrainian template, register and take the admissions exam for their chosen higher education institution as well as help with finding places in dormitories of the respective higher education institution while sitting the exams.
"Donbass - Ukraine" educational centers will operate from 1 July to 20 September. Entrance exams at certain certain universities for high-school graduates from the Donbass will be held up until 20 September and until 27 July for publicly funded places.
To view the list of centers and learn more about admission according to the simplified procedure for applicants from the Donbass, please visit the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine's website by following links below.
Hotline of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine on the admissions campaign for students from Crimea and Donbass: 0 (800) 504 425, +38 (050) 550-5411, +38 (068) 951 2513, (044) 481-3215.
Why is the primary school curriculum upgrade relevant at the present time?
Where is the updated curriculum available to be seen?
What is the "New School" concept and when will it be implemented?
The Curriculum for primary school grades 1-4 are currently the subject of much discussion, particularly by the parents of school pupils. The program is overloaded, often contains outdated or incorrect information, may not correspond to children's modern requirements and requires a lot of time to be covered. The main purpose of changing the curriculum for primary school is above all to "lighten" and update content. For example, obsolete words such as "telegram" will be removed from the Ukrainian language curriculum while the mechanical memorization of tables and rules will be removed from the mathematics curriculum.
The process of making changes to the curriculum will take place in two stages. The first stage, during which teachers, experts and civic activists have submitted proposals, has already been completed. The second stage involves the publication and public discussion of the updated curriculum.
The updated primary school curriculum is available for viewing on the online platform Ed-Era.com. In total, the updated curriculum for 14 primary school subjects is available online, as well as instructions on how to analyze, evaluate and comment on them.
Ministry of Education stresses that the process of updating educational content is an important step in reforming the entire school system, while updating the curriculum content for primary school is merely the first step in the process. Currently, work is underway to prepare the concept of "New Ukrainian school", which will include new standards, curriculum, textbooks and an updated system of teacher training. This concept will be implemented from 2018 onwards after careful preparation and testing.
Work has begun in Ukraine on an independent European audit of its national research and innovation systems, which became possible following our country achieved association status with the EU program "Horizon 2020" in March 2015.
An independent audit is a multi-stage and long process which aims to provide an impartial expert evaluation of the real situation in the Ukrainian scientific field and to develop recommendations for balanced government policy. An independent audit in the field of scientific research is common practice in European countries with a dozen states having already participated. In Ukraine, conducting such an audit has been envisaged in the plan of priority government actions for 2016.
During the audit process, the scientific research system of the participating state formulates its own questions, to which it seeks answers from the international group of experts. List of experts is established by the European Commission, with the "Ukrainian group" comprising representatives of Latvia, Lithuania, Austria, Germany, the United Kingdom, Hungary, the Netherlands and Belgium. The main issues for Ukraine as the initiator of the audit are related to the following topics:
- Optimization of existing instruments to support the national scientific research system, including an assessment of and recommendations on tools available following the adoption of the Law "On scientific and scientific-technical activity", the mobility of researchers and identifying potential priority areas of research;
- Internationalization of research and the integration of Ukraine into the European Research Area (ERA), including recommendations on maximizing the presence of Ukrainian scientists and researchers in European cooperation projects, the development of a roadmap for Ukraine's integration to the ERA, recommendations on how to interest Ukrainian businesses in projects as part of the Horizon 2020 program;
- The role of scientific research in the development of Ukrainian innovations with recommendations on how to improve the relationship between scientific research and business.
Currently work on the international audit is still ongoing, involving the study of information and expert meetings. A final report with recommendations will be presented to Ukraine in November. The results of the external independent audit of the Ukrainian system of research and innovation will be important for the implementation of the Law of Ukraine "On scientific and scientific-technical activity" and further reform of the field of scientific research.
What is inclusive education? Why is it important for children with special needs?
What innovations are envisaged in changes to the model staff regulations for pre-school educational institutions which took effect from 29 June 2016?
Inclusion refers to the active involvement and participation in society by all citizens and in particular of all citizens with special needs. Inclusive education refers creating an environment for learning and development, in which students with special needs can learn along with others, starting with pre-school educational institutions and ending with university studies.
For a long time in the Ukrainian education system practiced the isolation of children with special needs, considering that they should visit only specialized kindergartens and schools. As for higher education, "specialized" higher education institutions for students with special needs did not exist, but children who had previously been isolated from the general educational process as a result of attending specialized institutions found it extremely difficult to be admitted to and study in Ukrainian higher education institutions on a general basis.
A separate issue for the development of inclusive education is the issue of personnel.
The lack of teachers and other staff who can work with and provide assistance to meet the needs of persons with disabilities, prevents the involvement of such persons in schools and overcoming their isolation in society.
Approved changes to the model MES model staff regulations for pre-school educational institutions which entered into force on 29 June 2016, have created the position of "assistant carer" in inclusive preschool groups. Creating the position of "assistant carer" is important to ensure qualified inclusive groups catering to children with special needs and will improve the conditions of these children in preschool educational institutions. This is important because the involvement of children with special needs into the general education process begins with kindergarten.
In addition, changes to the model staff regulations for pre-school educational institutions provide heads of institutions with right to modify staffing or create new positions (excepting management positions) not provided for by rules on general staffing levels within the scope of available payroll funds. Staff may be reassigned to different positions within the same staffing category (teaching or service-support staff).
Creating a network of consolidated schools implies that a significant number of pupils studying there will need to be brought there by special school transport. Previously it was assumed that the purchase of school buses for this purpose, would be on the basis of 50 to 50, where half the cost of transportation is paid from the state budget (through a subsidy) and the other half from municipal budgets.
However considering the budget situation of local municipalities and the significant cost of school transport (between 1.4 and 1.6 million hryvnias for a bus with 31 seats), not all municipalities have sufficient budget revenues and therefore cannot provide the necessary funds for the transport needs of schools.
In order to address this important issue, the government has supported the initiative by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine to increase the share of public financing in the purchase of school buses to 70% for municipalities without sufficient funds. As a result, municipal budgets will be required to allocate the remaining 30% of necessary funds.
Municipal authorities now have until 1 September to hold tenders and purchase buses for consolidated schools. In total, 600 million hryvnias were set aside in the 2016 state budget for the purchase of school buses.
Another issue is the quality and condition of the roads on the route where school buses will operate. They must also be repaired before the new school year.