Debates Held: Antiquated Secondary Education in Ukraine

Tuesday, 4 December 2012


On November 29th a public debate concerning Ukraine's antiquated secondary education system was held in the auditorium of the I. Franko National University of L'viv.  The event was organized by the Foundation for Effective Governance with support from the L'viv City council.  The main goal of the debates was to identify and propose ways to address the main problems of Ukraine's secondary education system.  The main speakers at the event were Ina Mullis Executive Director of the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Oleh Berezyuk, Director of the Department of Humanitarian Policy at the L'viv Regional Administration, Oleksiy Hrekov, co-founder and Director of Strategic Development at the Afina private school and Dmytro Shymkiv, General Director of Microsoft Ukraine.  Guests also welcomed Natalya Izosimova, Director of the Foundation for Effective Governance, Ivan Vakarchuk, Chancellor of the I. Franko National University of L'viv and Andriy Sadovyy, Mayor of L'viv.


According to the World Economic Forum's 2012 Global Competitiveness Report the quality of education, including secondary education, in Ukraine was ranked 70th out of 144 countries; losing 30 places in the past four years.   The reason for the low ranking is that Ukraine's secondary education system is not adapting to current demands by allowing students to select subjects they find interesting, but forcing them to study a wide range of mandatory subjects.  On one hand this increases the general knowledge base of students; on the other hand it makes it impossible for them to concentrate on the subjects they are planning to pursue at establishments of higher education or those that would enable them to be employed in the field of their choice.  This was the opinion expressed by Ms. Izosimova, Director of the Foundation for Effective Governance, but there are other problems as well and similar events are needed to explore how to resolve them and thereby to improve the quality of education in Ukraine because the educational system is the foundation for building a nation's economy.


Others that agreed that the quality of secondary education in Ukraine is below par felt that the state should be a more active participant in reforming the system of education in Ukraine.


"Today, secondary education is hanging on by a handful of enthusiastic teachers and parents which, because of certain cultural norms, readily compensate for the drawbacks of the system by investing in tutors and studying abroad.   The system continues to make our children conform, to reduce them to a common denominator, rather than to nurture their individuality and their individual talents.  This extends from a poor knowledge of English to not thinking creatively, from not knowing how to use a computer to lacking the spirit of entrepreneurship.  This is the result of an antiquated system of secondary education," said Mr. Shymkiv, General Director of Microsoft Ukraine.  According to him, the state should implement systemic reforms and finance the introduction of information technologies.


Mr. Hrekov, Co-founder and Director of Strategic Development for Afina, argued that the current system of education in Ukraine is so weak and unproductive that no time should be wasted in dumping it in favor of any other system, even one that is flawed or experimental.


"In roughly 5 years the world will change and become unrecognizable.  Ukraine will have to either transform everything-it's educational system, health system, economy, government-or disappear as a country.  Regardless, with our without Ukraine, those left on this territory will live in a different country, one that will need creative and productive individuals who can exercise free will, not individuals who are ignorant, and this will be the case for all, from the lowest skilled positions through private and government positions," emphasized Mr. Hrekov.


Other debate participants supported the current system of secondary education, stating that it has real potential to significantly improve in the future.


Ina Mullis, Executive Director of the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center shared the results of an international study conducted by TIMSS in 2011.  The results of this study show that Ukraine's quality of education ranks somewhere in the middle of the scale.  Ukraine achieved this ranking because her pupils demonstrate a high level of development, and because nearly all have an excellent basic knowledge of math and science.


According to Mullis a "hopelessly antiquated" system of education couldn't have produced such results.

"TIMSS 2011 international testing of pupils in mathematics and science was held in 50 countries.  It shows that the system of education in Ukraine is effective, and that the curriculum in Ukrainian schools is balanced and conforms to best contemporary international practices," she concluded.


Oleh Berezyuk, Director of Humanitarian Policy for the L'viv Regional Administration also supports this position.


Berezyuk believes that the statement: "Learn, wherever and whatever you can," made by an elderly woman in L'viv embodies the philosophy of education.  He added that "tradition dictates that we should value education, how we should accumulate it and how much positive impact it will have on the future.  Banakh, Lem, Polyuy, Landau, Korolenko, Yukhnovs'kyy, Skoryk, Kostenko did not only open the world for themselves, they opened it for all of us.  Maybe we don't have to reinvent the bicycle?"





Materials from the Foundation for Effective Governance


No comments yet, be first

To post comments to register

Signup for registered users

Information Service

Ukrainian Center of Education Quality

(044) 503 37 93


Комітет Верховної Ради України з питань науки і освіти Партнер1 Національна академія педагогічних наук України Партнер2 USAID American Councils Громадяньска мережа ОПОРА Microsoft Україна Міжнародний Фонд "Відродження" Американські дослідницькі інститути Національний педагогічний університет ім. М. Драгоманова Національна академія управління НАУКМА Київський університет імені Бориса Грінченка Спілка ректорів ВНЗ України Центр освітньої політики Львівський Національний Університет ім. І.Франка Pro.Mova Партнер3