Over­looked ru­ral ar­eas get lift with Teach for Ukraine

Kyiv Post - - Lifestyle - BY ANNA YAKUTENKO [email protected] Teach for Ukraine

Nearly half of Ukraine’s teach­ers are of re­tire­ment age or near­ing it, ac­cord­ing to re­cent polls by the CEDOS think tank. Mean­while, the teach­ing pro­fes­sion is not con­sid­ered pres­ti­gious and does not pay well.

As a re­sult, pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion in Ukraine tends to be less lively and more old fash­ioned in many schools, es­pe­cially in ru­ral ar­eas.

Ukrainian chil­dren from poorer fam­i­lies, ac­cord­ing to the same polls, are three times less likely to at­tain higher ed­u­ca­tion than their wealth­ier peers, as many strug­gle to get even the low­est score that would al­low them to en­ter the univer­sity.

To help change that, Teach For Ukraine, part of an in­ter­na­tional pro­gram that trains young pro­fes­sion­als and grad­u­ates to be­come teach­ers, was launched in Fe­bru­ary.

Mo­ti­vated youth

The pro­gram looks for mo­ti­vated young peo­ple with ex­cel­lent knowl­edge of any school sub­ject — for­mal train­ing or qual­i­fi­ca­tions as an ed­u­ca­tor are not a must.

Rimma El Joueidi, CEO and co-founder of Teach for Ukraine, said that at least 200 peo­ple have ap­plied for the pro­gram. The last ap­pli­ca­tion pe­riod for this year ends on May 1.

The or­ga­niz­ers will in­ter­view can­di­dates to as­sess their mo­ti­va­tion and knowl­edge of the sub­ject they want to teach. Af­ter that, 40 can­di­dates will at­tend a six-week sum­mer camp where they will be taught in­no­va­tive tech­niques from other teach­ers and alumni from other coun­tries.

Start­ing in Septem­ber, each par­tic­i­pant will spend at least two years in a ru­ral school in ei­ther Kyiv, Lviv or Kharkiv oblasts, teach­ing kids from the 5th to 11th grades. Apart from a teacher’s salary paid by the state, the par­tic­i­pants will have their liv­ing ex­penses cov­ered by the pro­gram, which also pro­vides a schol­ar­ship.

Ac­cord­ing to El Joueidi, many of those who have al­ready ap­plied for the pro­gram said they dreamed of be­ing teach­ers, but didn’t have a di­ploma or pur­sued an­other ca­reer be­cause of the teach­ing pro­fes­sion’s ex­tremely low salaries. Most of the ap­pli­cants are young Ukrainian spe­cial­ists from 25 to 35 who have al­ready par­tic­i­pated in var­i­ous ex­change or vol­un­teer­ing pro­grams.

“A lot of the ap­pli­cants are ide­al­is­tic: they want to bring change; share their knowl­edge to make those chil­dren, schools and com­mu­ni­ties de­velop,” El Joueidi said.

Same prob­lems

Teach For Ukraine is a part of a global in­ter­na­tional pro­gram called Teach For All, which has been pro- vid­ing aid to ed­u­ca­tion in 44 coun­tries for 27 years al­ready.

The ini­tia­tive has al­ready seen suc­cesses, in­clud­ing in coun­tries like the United King­dom.

El­iz­a­beth Hind­marsh, who con­sults Teach For Ukraine, ap­plied to the U.K. ver­sion of the pro­gram, called Teach First, af­ter she grad­u­ated from the Univer­sity of Cam­bridge in Eng­land.

Study­ing at one of the most pres­ti­gious uni­ver­si­ties in the world, Hind­marsh, who at­tended a state school, found that most of her fel­low stu­dents had gone to pri­vate schools.

Hind­marsh told the Kyiv Post that she was shocked and wanted to change the sit­u­a­tion by en­cour­ag­ing more chil­dren from state schools to ap­ply for places in the top uni­versi- ties in Bri­tain.

Teach First trans­formed her life. Hind­marsh spent two years teach­ing kids in a school in Lon­don, which she de­scribed as chal­leng­ing. The pro­gram is achiev­ing re­sults: stu­dents at schools that em­ployed the pro­gram’s par­tic­i­pants saw their per­for­mance in­di­ca­tors dou­ble.

Hind­marsh, who par­tic­i­pated in the pro­gram in 2012–2014, said that Teach First is now one of the big­gest em­ploy­ers for grad­u­ates in the U.K., in­clud­ing ones from top uni­ver­si­ties such as Cam­bridge and Ox­ford.

“We’re among the top three of grad­u­ate ca­reers now. But ten years ago no­body wanted to be a teacher,” she said.

El Joueidi said that al­most 20 per­cent of grad­u­ates from Ivy League uni­ver­si­ties ap­ply for the Teach for Amer­ica pro­gram in the United States.

“When you have Teach First in your CV it’s a huge ben­e­fit, no mat­ter what sec­tor you want to work in (af­ter com­plet­ing the pro­gram),” Hind­marsh said.

El Joueidi, who, with a group of other co-founders, de­cided to bring the pro­gram to Ukraine, says that while she was study­ing her­self, there was one teacher who taught her a lot, and in a way had be­come her men­tor.

“I thought: ‘Why can’t ev­ery child have such a teacher, and what would the world look like if they did?’” she said. The pro­gram is look­ing for can­di­dates with at least a bach­e­lor’s de­gree who speaks flu­ent Ukrainian and who can at­tend the Sum­mer In­sti­tute this year. They must be ready to move to the ru­ral ar­eas to start teach­ing on Sept. 1. To ap­ply, one should fill in the form in Ukrainian at www.teach­forukraine. org/ap­ply by May 1.

Fiona Brad­ford, an alumni of Teach First pro­gram that trains young pro­fes­sion­als and suc­cess­ful grad­u­ates to be­come teach­ers, hold classes for stu­dent of state school in Brad­ford, Eng­land. Ukrainian ver­sion of the pro­gram called Teach First that was...

Rimma El Joueidi, the CEO and co-founder of Teach for Ukraine. (Volodymyr Petrov)

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