Better schools, please
When Pink Floyd sang “we don’t need no education” they might have given accidental inspiration to the education system of modern Ukraine.
Of course, parents in every country complain about schools, but in Ukraine there are objective reasons to think education is in a dire state. One of them is this year’s results of high school graduation tests, a Ukrainian version of SAT. A whopping 30 percent of high school graduates failed to identify Ukraine as a unitary state. Almost half didn’t recognize Ukraine’s parliament building from a picture.
There is an even surer sign. Rich Ukrainians send their children to study abroad. Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, every oligarch and many top officials pay big money in tuition fees to schools and colleges in the West.
The education system in Ukraine hasn’t seen much change since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It’s also underfunded. Even after a salary raise this year, public school teachers get just $230–300 monthly.
Change is happening, but slowly. This year marks a new approach aim ed at instilling critical thinking in primary school children. Higher education should be next in line. Only a couple of Ukrainian universities are listed among the world’s top 500 colleges.
Last year, among 6,000 graduates with the highest scores, a quarter of them didn’t apply to Ukrainian universities. They likedly decided to study abroad.
Today, the world is looking for talent. Other countries and foreign businesses are fishing for it, offering high-paying jobs and special visas while Ukraine has been a talent donor.
Fixing education isn’t easy, or quick, but there is no way around it: Without smart people, there is no smart country.