Education in UkraineUkraine, despite being independent of the former Soviet Union for 25 years, continues to experience trials as a sovereign state. Although the Ukrainian economy has performed phenomenally over the past decade, recent data from the World Bank shows a GDP growth rate of around -10 percent, with inflation soaring at 50 percent. With poverty rates expected to increase, it is crucial that education in Ukraine improves so that students grow into productive employees ready to transform the economy.

According to the United Nation Development Programme’s 2013 Education Index, Ukraine is ranked #83 out of 187 countries, falling behind its neighbors Romania, Russia and Belarus.

Although the system of education in Ukraine requires all children to attend school for twelve years, a UNICEF study points out that enrollment in primary education is 83% — lower than most rates in other Central and Eastern European countries.

Low school enrollment rates in Ukraine can be predominantly attributed to rural poverty. Families prefer to send their children to work on their farms instead of going to school, and many do not have the resources to get their children to school in the first place.

To boost enrollment in rural areas, the Ukrainian government introduced a school bus initiative to ensure children have a reliable way of getting to school.

While plans were made to expand educational opportunities for all children in Ukraine, many students doubt the quality of their high school degrees.

In a survey run by UNICEF and the IRC, one recent graduate said, “A diploma is one thing and education is another… Learning things that can be used in life is different from what they teach you at school. Even if I finish school and try to find a job I will not know what a CV is, but it is required…  These are simple life skills; they have nothing in common with a good education.” Many other interviewed students expressed similar sentiments.

It is clear that Ukrainian students feel unprepared to enter the workforce. Even more troubling, however, are Ukraine’s technical schools. Students who attend vocational schools do so to learn a specific trade. A large number of technical schools in Ukraine, however, were created under Soviet rule and the curriculums have not been updated to suit modern times.

This is a major issue, especially since the enrollment rates in vocational institutions are so high. Consequently, more and more young Ukrainians are going to technical schools, thinking they are well-prepared for a career in their desired trade, only to find out their technical skills are archaic and undesirable.

As Ukraine struggles with its weakening financial situation, its graduates are also lacking the skills necessary to restart the economy. Meanwhile, estimates suggest that poverty in Ukraine is on the rise. Thus now, more than ever, it is imperative to reform education in Ukraine. By transforming Ukraine’s current educational system, the country can spur productivity, growth and increase the quality of life.

Kristina Evans
Photo: Flickr