Over 300 schools for democracy in Ukraine

Entering into its fifth programme cycle, more than 300 schools now take part in the Schools for Democracy network in Ukraine.

During the launch of the fifth cycle in Kyiv January 27, Khrystyna Chushak, Head Programme Coordinator and EWC Representative in Ukraine pointed out that the ffirst training took place 4 years ago, back in 2016.

“Since then we have grown into a large community of educators who pave the way for democratic change in Ukrainian schools. Today, with 60 new schools joining, our network of democratic schools will count over 300 schools all over Ukraine, including in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. We are grateful for the good cooperation with our network of trainers, which has grown into a family of over 70 professionals now. We highly value cooperation with our partners – Ministry of Education, Institute of Modernization of Education Content, State Service of Quality Education, Ukrainian Institute of Education Development, Lviv In-Service Teacher Training Institute and many others».

The school heads from 60 newly selected schools met with trainers and their colleagues from the schools from the Schools for Democracy network. The conference was inaugurated by the Deputy Minister of Education Lyubomyra Mandziy:

“All the changes that are taking place in our schools – take place thanks to cooperation with people that inspire and persuade us that changes in education are possible. EWC unites like-minded people and brings about change. I extend my sincere gratitude to EWC and Ana Perona-Fjeldstad for many years of cooperation and your inspiration, you really make a difference. I am grateful to the Embassy of Norway for support of our joint Schools for Democracy programme. Let us change education together, we can make it!”

Fredrik Arthur from the Norwegian Embassy to Ukraine mentioned his recent visit to one of the schools participating in the programme:

«Members of the Norwegian delegation saw how dialogue, openness, participation of students, teachers, parents and local community contributed to more democratic relations and development of democratic competences of young people»

Ana Perona Fjeldstad underlined the importance of civic education and the new challenges in the 21st century.

”Digitalization has changed citizenship education. Internet is no longer only a tool but rather an expansion of human life, schools need to deal with cyberbullying, help students learn how to protect their personal information and how to participate in local community using online tools. These are new challenges our schools need to be ready to respond to in order to provide quality education for our children. And in order to help them become good citizens – both offline and online.”

Marzena Rafalska, EWC and CoE expert said that schools have to teach how to learn, not to retranslate information:

“The biggest role of the modern teacher is how to construct knowledge out of the information at hand. The modern world is overwhelmed with information, we have to learn how to use it in order to act successfully in the society both in the familiar and unexpected situations”.

Iryna Belova, school leader of Irpin school No 2, whose school participated in the programme in 2016-2017, recounted her experience:

‘We build our school strategy and our school activities around the issue of democratization. Many of our teachers chose development of civic competences as the main direction of their professional development. We are with the programme since 2016. The most important thing is not to stop!’

Tetyana Vlasenko, School leader of Nizhyn school № 17 “Our school is not big, so all of our teachers are involved in the Programme. We enjoy the activities suggested by the Programme and now we cannot imagine our life without it”

Andriy Melnyk, leader of Kyiv school No 203 told the story of how he changed from a skeptic, who was drawn in the programme by active parents from his school, into the programme’s fan. It happened because of the genuine care of the programme for the schools.

The 9th training of trainers of the School for Democracy took place January 26-27. 70 trainers from all over Ukraine took time to reflect on the programme’s experience of teaching and supporting schools in democratization processes. 8 regional hubs created their versions of trainings and distance support for the schools from the newly selected 5th cycle of the Programme, discussing it with each other, receiving and providing feedback.

Within the event, a meeting of Ana Perona-Fjeldstad with the Minister of Education of Ukraine took place. Futher progress of the school reform in Ukraine was discussed. Contribution of the EWC to policy development, preparing new teaching and learning materials and retraining of teachers was recognized. Future prospects of cooperation were touched upon, including possible support of pre-school education reform.