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The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) has released results upon which the secondary education level in Ukraine can be regarded as “very mediocre”

Last year, Ukraine participated for the first time in the literacy assessing of 15-year-old teenagers in such subjects as reading, mathematics and natural science subjects, which PISA is examining in 78 countries.

Nearly 6.000 students have passed PISA tests in 250 educational institutions in Ukraine.

Who calculates the amount of humanitarian aid?

It turned out that Ukrainian students ranked 36th in terms of reading ability, 38th in natural sciences, in the mathematics only 41st.

Such indicators are due to the fact that 36% of high school students do not have basic knowledge of mathematics, 26% did not reach the basic reading level, and 26.4% did not get a basic understanding of natural sciences.

Hanna Novosad, a Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine evaluated these results as “good” and noted that they should not be compared with all countries, but first of all, with reference ones for Ukraine. In her opinion, it is Belarus, Georgia, Estonia, Poland, Moldova, Slovakia and Hungary. If Estonia has reached the tops and ranked in the Top 5 (even ahead of Finland, which was considered exemplary in the sense of effective school education a few years ago), we have managed to get ahead of Moldova and Slovakia.

By the way, China’s provinces are on the first stages of education and Albania is on the last. If we are only 50 points away from the outsider, then we are 100 points away from the leader.

Therefore, if we do not draw conclusions and accelerate reforms, our chances of building an economy of the second world country will be generally dreamy. As ominously advanced scientists say, who have been eliminated from influencing society and funding for many years, “from the problem of finding qualified turners, we will carefully move on to finding those who correctly calculate the amount of humanitarian aid from the UN”.

It is obviously, that “glorious” Soviet secondary education system with cramming paragraphs and “homework” along with all cosmetic changes introduced during independence – does not work, and implementation of the New Ukrainian School program in primary school has not yet managed to lead to a significant improvement of high school students’ level.

However, there is one step forward – according to the PISA rating, students in Ukraine feel more satisfied with their lives than their equals in age in the post-Soviet countries. So this is probably good news – children admit that schools have reduced the Soviet-style aggression directed at students.

Educational marathon for teachers from the East – for children-people

At the beginning of December, during the promulgation of PISA ratings, an intensive conference was held in Kyiv for educators of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. About 180 educators from 60 schools of the East during five days have been searching effective recipes that would help develop Ukrainian education. Donetsk region was represented by teachers from Mariupol, Kramatorsk, Druzhkivka, Pokrovsk, Krasnohorivka, Avdiivka, Volnovakha, Sloviansk, Dobropillia, Velyka Novosilka, Bakhmut, Vuhledar, Selydove, Kostiantynivka, Novohrodivka, Toretsk and district schools.

To the next module of the Educational Marathon will be invited those groups of participants who will prepare the best concepts for the strategy of development of their educational institution. Prominent Ukrainian educators taught them and well-known artists motivated to materialize ideas of the New Ukrainian School.

– What a teacher does is called missionary work, volunteerism, and you will not see this at once, Rymma Ziubina, an actress and public figure said during one of the sessions. – But what the teacher “puts” in the young man’s head – will give result tomorrow. A teacher is like a doctor: If he does not find out, at least one day what is new in the world, then he will lose his feeling the pulse of life. I do want a generation of children-people, not children-slaves grow up in our country, so that children are not afraid to express their thoughts and are free.

According to Denys Bloshchynskyi, an organizer of the marathon, head of the Foundation for Social Innovation “From Country to Ukraine”: the idea to work with teachers came after involved in educational programs teenagers asked the question: «Tell us how to get back to school now after we have learned to see the broader picture of the world, to look differently at our own development and at ourselves as a person?»

– Those who have already passed the system of school education, have felt that they are “losing themselves” – personal originality, creativity, childhood. This is an illustration of how the education system works today. Now the whole world is talking about it; the problem is not only Ukrainian. We realized that we would not be able to change teenagers without the cooperation of teachers and their parents, – Bloshchynskyi says.

The promulgation of PISA results also made us to think about what kind of skills our children should learn at school. After all, PISA does not verify whether students have mastered certain formulas, but it evaluates how much they are able to use them in real life – to calculate the garret space in a home, the amount of medicines, or the cost of a skateboard. Here it turned out that most Ukrainian students are not able to apply their knowledge to solving life’s problems. Namely, this ability is the key to successful self-realization of the personality after school.

Green ink and village school

Another conclusion from the PISA rating concerns the quality of rural education: students of village schools have academic failure than their equals in age from major Ukrainian cities by 2.5 years of study. The teachers of small towns and villages of Donetsk region attending at the Educational Marathon were somewhat critical of this data. According to them, with the implementation of the New Ukrainian School principles, in view of the emergence of modern educational equipment in rural educational establishments, the gap is significantly leveled.

Of the problems that front-line school educators consider currently central, the biggest is staffing. According to Victoriia Shliakhova, a director of Avdiivka Secondary General School No. 6, her colleagues are mostly retirement age, and they perceive changes extremely difficult. Other teachers have also mentioned this: teachers, 90% of whom have left the Soviet system, cannot get used to the system without marks, using green ink instead of red one when checking students’ exercises, lack of homework, and so on.

What is a green color in teacher notes? It means that a teacher defines and approves the first-grader’s successes, not just corrects mistakes. That way a teacher encourages him to improve and multiply his own achievements instead of suppressing self-esteem by negatively colored red. And this is really a test for educators who are used to evaluate “objectively” rather than inspire. But all children are different, and it is not always possible to evaluate them equally and compare them with others. It is much more important to motivate them to be able to fly at a higher pitch than they were yesterday.

Parents do not always perceive changes. Some simply require from teachers to be as strict as possible and punish children for mistakes. Some parents, unfortunately, have broken down in difficult circumstances and they just do not care about their children. All of this also affects educators, because the heart aches for children, and you do nothing: such parents will never agree at least to go to a psychologist to renew contact with the child and help it grow up. However, HROMADA Skhid has already written about the problem that we have no cultural consumption of psychological services.

Money to the development

No change is going to happen without money, as if the money is there now. Moreover, rural teachers of Donetsk region unanimously state that as much funding as in the last two years has never been available to schools. The first classes of schools in Ukraine are already equipped with previous educational budgets. Therefore, we can expect that over 145 billion UAH (by 12% more than last year’s budget for education) included into the budget for 2020 will go to the development of secondary schools.

For the first time, an annual financial support at the rate of 21.000 UAH is introduced for young teachers (work experience up to 10 years) to encourage young people to study to be teachers and to work, in particular, in rural schools.

A separate budget at the rate of 3.5 billion UAH for the first time is also planned for the Capable School for Better Results program. The New Ukrainian School program will be financed in almost the same amount as before – about 1.4 billion UAH.

Other 259 million UAH is planned for the development of scientific and practical centers. However, Donetsk region has not been included in the pilot project on technical and vocational education reform, and there will be no significant changes in this area in the near future. Unfortunately. Nevertheless, this is another story…

Nazar NOVAK/Hromada Skhid No. 8, 2019



Viktor HROMOVYI, speaker of the Educational Marathon, Honored Teacher of Ukraine, Chief Editor of the portal “Educational Policy”, member of the Educational and Research Center on the Quality of Education:

– Look at rural schools around Kiev. For example, Khotiv school in Kyiv-Sviatoshyn district – I do not think that there will be worse results of evaluation than in Kyiv. Great results will be there, because of such society. I worked in Kirovohrad district, a research station is there, two-thirds of my class at Sozonivka school consisted of researchers’ children, and there were no worse results than in cities.

So the problem of a rural school is not in students or teachers, but in society. We need to develop social and economic rural communities, create work places, and encourage people to get better. The more prosperous and educated a family can be, the better a child can achieve.


Olha KOZACHENKO, a director of Ivanivka Secondary General School of I-III degrees of Bakhmut District Council:

– Our school is fully staffed by specialist teachers. They commute by a school bus from Bakhmut, and there is no such a thing as one teacher lecturing several subjects. There is a problem with the motivation of parents: we have half the children of privileged category, 37% – family with many children, parents work all day long, trying to earn money. Kids are alone all the day. A school is not able to motivate so much if a child does not see support of the parents. Children in such families do not feed well; parents do not seek medical assistance, and so on. More than 40 out of 180 students of our school are in the dispensary, they are chronically ill, and this also has a negative impact on their education.




Tetiana BIKIEIEVA-LAKIERBAIA, a director of Kostiantynopil Secondary General School of I-III degrees of Velyka Novosilka District Council:

– We have many families in our village where children are involved in vegetable growing and already receive their own money. They have no desire to study, they are not interested in school – why spend time there if they see their prospect in earning right now? Perhaps if someone introduced the rule that students would not be transferred to the next class without reaching a certain level of knowledge, then they would be motivated to study rather than sit in one class for three years.