The New Ukrainian School is a key reform of the Ministry of Education and Science. The main objective is to create a school that will be pleasant to go to and will provide the students not only with knowledge, as is the case now, but also with the ability to apply it in real life.
The New Ukrainian School is a kind of school which is pleasant for students to be in. Their opinion is respected here, they are taught to think critically, not to be afraid of voicing their view and be responsible citizens. Parents also like attending this school because cooperation and mutual understanding prevail here.
The New Ukrainian School reform is a matter of many years since it is impossible to quickly change the educational tradition that has been kept up in Ukraine for dozens of years. Yet, the changes are underway and the Ministry of Education and Science does everything to make them irreversible. In particular, in September 2017, the new Law "On Education" was adopted, which regulates the basic principles of the new education system. The next thing on the agenda is adoption of the new Law "On General Secondary Education", where the changes will be described in more detail, and approval of the new National Primary Education Standard.
This Standard is to be tried out in the 2017/2018 academic year in 100 schools throughout Ukraine (two first grades in each school). Even today, these first-graders study in a new way: they gain knowledge and master new skills via practical activity, and during the morning session they learn to express their opinions and feelings and listen to others.
From the 2018/2019 academic year, all Ukrainian first-graders will be studying in a new way.
According to the new Primary Education Standard, teachers will be applying different approaches in their work, so the Ministry of Education and Science, jointly with the Osvitoria Public Association, the International Renaissance Foundation and the EdEra online education studio, has already started training teachers who are going to work with first-graders next year. Currently, coaches from all Regions of Ukraine are being trained to train teachers, and a new online resource is being created to enhance full-time training.
The main principles of the school education reform are set out in the New Ukrainian School Concept. (English version) There you can find information on the reform values (such as focus on students, pedagogy of partnership, fair funding, etc), key competencies and a vision of what a New Ukrainian School leaver should be like. Brief information about this can be found below.
Also, a website called "New Ukrainian School" has been created in partnership with the Smart Education NGO to provide information on the reform progress and its key positions.
A key change for students concerns approaches to learning and educational content. At the Ministry of Education and Science, we are confident that this is the most important thing because the goal of the New Ukrainian School is to raise an innovator and citizen who is capable of making responsible decisions and respects human rights.
Instead of memorizing facts and definitions, students will acquire competencies. This is a dynamic combination of knowledge, skills, ways of thinking, opinions, values, and other personal qualities that determine a person's ability to socialize well and to engage in professional and/or further learning activities. In other words, core knowledge is formed that will be supplemented with the ability to use this knowledge, with values and skills that Ukrainian school leavers will need in their professional and personal life.
The list of competencies to be acquired by students has already been set forth in the Law "On Education". It was drawn up taking into account the Recommendations of the European Parliament and of the European Council on Key Competencies for Lifelong Learning (dated 18 December 2006):
The National Standards may also extend this list.
The so-called cross-cutting skills are common for all the competencies: reading with understanding, ability to express one's own opinion orally and in writing, critical and systemic thinking, ability to logically substantiate one's position, creativity, proactivity, ability to manage emotions constructively, assess risks, make decisions, resolve problems, ability to cooperate with others.
In order to acquire competencies, students will study based on the activity-based approach, that is, they will do something more often instead of just sitting at their desks and listening to the teacher. Also, the New Ukrainian School Concept offers implementation of the integrated and project-based learning. In this way, students get a full picture of the world since they study the phenomena from the viewpoint of different sciences and learn to resolve real problems applying the knowledge gained from various subjects.
The reform is also about the educational environment. The equipment or furniture are not of primary importance here, although the funding of schools has increased due to decentralisation, and the material and technical resources in many educational institutions are being updated gradually.
A change of the educational environment is a change in the attitude toward the child: respect, attention to the child and a wish to find an optimal way of teaching him or her. This is what the New Ukrainian School is going to be like.
A teacher is the pivotal figure in the reform. No changes are possible without him or her, so one of the main principles of the New Ukrainian School is the motivated teacher. Therefore, our goal is to contribute to teachers' professional and personal growth and to increase their social status.
To teach in a new way, a teacher needs freedom of action – to select educational materials, to improvise and try things out. This kind of freedom is provided by the new Law "On Education".
The Ministry of Education and Science will offer standard educational programmes, but any teacher or any author group may supplement them or create their own programmes. A teacher is now limited by the National Standard only. This document outlines the results: what students have to know and be able to do after they complete a certain learning stage. And a teacher will determine how to achieve these results.
A teacher who has been given freedom to teach needs to have freedom to learn as well. This kind of freedom is also envisaged by the reform. A teacher will be able to do half of the mandatory hours of professional development wherever they want to rather than at Postgraduate Teacher Training Institutes. There are only two requirements: over five years, a total of 150 hours must be spent on professional development, and the training must be done annually.
Currently, the Ministry of Education and Science is developing a procedure according to which the budget funds earmarked for teachers' professional development could be channelled to non-government and private organizations.
To provide teachers with financial motivation as well, the Ministry will introduce certification. This is a voluntary evaluation and teachers who undergo it will be given a 20% salary uplift and will be exempted from attestation.
The New Ukrainian School is a responsible school and we are confident that educational institutions should be given more freedom of action. Responsibility and freedom go hand in hand.
That is why the Law "On Education" provides for personnel autonomy. A school principal can now independently appoint his or her deputies, hire and dismiss the teaching staff.
Moreover, headmasters (as well as teachers) are now hired according to a fixed-term contract. School principles are elected on a competitive basis. One person may hold this position for no longer than two six-year-long terms (if a person is appointed to this position for the first time, the first term will last 2 years). Thereafter, this person will be able to occupy other positions in this same school or take part in a contest of principals in another school.
One of the principles of the New Ukrainian School is partnership, including that of the school and the parents. The parents may set up their public self-government bodies and thus influence the teaching and educational processes.
From now on, it will be easier for parents to control finances in a school. All educational institutions receiving public funds (for instance, budget funds and charitable contributions) should make public their budgets and information on expenditures. Parents can now transfer their charitable contributions directly for school purposes instead of collecting cash, which is very difficult to keep track of.
Cooperation between all the participants of the educational process – teachers, students, administration and parents – is a cornerstone that will help achieve the rest of the results. This is the only way to achieve the main goal: change the educational environment and introduce learning for life.And finally, to make Ukrainian school open, interesting and modern.