Publication: Review of the Education Sector in Ukraine: Moving toward Effectiveness, Equity and Efficiency

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World Bank Group
Education in Ukraine has played a significant role in economic and social development even before gaining independence in 1991. As a member of the Soviet Union, Ukraine’s education system was promoted strongly at all levels, and it was provided with exceptionally high funding and support for pedagogical innovation to meet the needs of a centrally planned economy. Outcomes included high literacy rates and basic knowledge, particularly in the sciences, and impressive scientific and technological achievements. Since independence, Ukraine has been able to sustain some of its comparative advantages in educational excellence, contributing to high levels of educational attainment and human capital development. Ukrainians want a modern education system for their futures and the future of their children. They want a system that facilitates Ukraine’s integration into Europe and the wider world. Low public trust in the system, years of national dialogue, and the Euromaidan Revolution all contributed to a consensus for change. With general secondary education, change was warranted to address: (a) outdated curricula emphasizing content knowledge over critical thinking and problem-solving; (b) low student motivation to learn with overly theoretical textbooks and outdated teaching methods; (c) low social status and low salaries for teachers, contributing to a demoralized teacher workforce and unappealing profession; and (d) unequal access to the quality education that has been guaranteed by the Government. In higher education, these reasons included corruption, non-recognition of diplomas of Ukrainian higher education institutions (HEIs) in the European Union and the world, divergence of higher education from the demands of the labor market, quality of learning environments and instructional methods, inefficient use of funds, and international isolation. The Euromaidan Revolution in 2014 generated excitement and optimism about the future, which brought forth some of the boldest and most ambitious efforts to reform the education system in Ukraine since independence. These reforms aimed to decentralize and democratize education, transitioning the system away from its Soviet past and towards a vision for the future. However, the context for reform and performance of Ukraine’s education system suggests that the vision needs to be better articulated across the sector. Reforms have proceeded at different paces, and there is the inertia of history that threatens progress. Without addressing persistent imbalances in the sector, positive results may not be achieved.
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World Bank Group. 2019. Review of the Education Sector in Ukraine: Moving toward Effectiveness, Equity and Efficiency. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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