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Preparatory departments for entrants from Crimea and eastern Ukraine: Open Policy Foundation calls for amendments to the Law “On Higher Education”

Jan. 29, 2018, 6:27 p.m.

The proposals of the Open Policy Foundation that concern the opening of preparatory departments for entrants from temporarily occupied Crimea and uncontrolled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk Regions were not taken into account during the discussion of amendments to the Law "On Higher Education".

On April 26, 2017, the Non-governmental organization “Open Policy Foundation” announced these proposals at a meeting of the intergovernmental working group in the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. After that, the corresponding orders were issued to the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine.

Already in June 2017, the Department of Higher Education of the Ministry of Education and Science has developed the relevant Draft Law "On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine "On Higher Education" on ensuring the right to higher education of persons whose place of residence is the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine" (Crimea). However, this Law does not include applicants from non-government controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Regions (NGCA).

Also in the summer of 2017, the Foundation provided this Draft Law and an analytical note with the justification for the necessity to open preparatory departments not only for Crimeans but also for the residents of eastern Ukraine (ORDLO) to the parliamentarians and the Presidential Administration of Ukraine.

However, as of January 2018, the relevant amendments to the Law "On Higher Education" have not been made. The situation and conditions of education of the Crimea residents and the Separate districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions (SDDLR) are significantly deteriorating every year.

The main barriers are informational, material, psychological aspects, lack of knowledge of Ukrainian language and literature, history of Ukraine, the complexity of the crossing of "collision lines" (the entry-exit checkpoints)/ administrative border, and lack of documents of the state standard (Ukrainian passport, certificates of 9 and 11 classes). On the temporarily uncontrolled territories and NGCA, information is distributed about the lack of budget places in Ukraine for entrants from SDDLR and Crimea, as well as about the fact that students will be enrolled in the army immediately and "will allow the machine to shoot at their parents." . Moreover, it is said that students will have no opportunity to visit their parents. An important factor is also the lack of parents’ funds for allowing their children to come to the controlled areas and study there. For example, the average cost of a "Bakhmut-Donetsk" transfer through the entry-exit checkpoint "Majorsk" is about 700 UAH. In addition, not all free dormitories are provided.

At the same time, during almost 4 years of the war, the number of schoolchildren who lose basic knowledge of Ukrainian subjects received before the war began to increase. According to organizations of human rights, less than 5% of students study Ukrainian language and literature in Crimea. Programs in educational institutions of SDDLR provide minimum hours for these subjects. In addition, programs of the other Ukrainian subjects (history of Ukraine, jurisprudence, the geography of Ukraine) are distorted. In general, they do not meet the state standard of Ukraine.

Therefore, it is extremely important to provide additional tools for education in Ukraine, namely to open state-commissioned preparatory departments at the “Donbas-Ukraine” and “Crimea-Ukraine” Educational Centers. Defining the conditions for entering the preparatory departments, it is necessary to take into account the barriers as far as possible. Ukrainian language and literature, history of Ukraine should not be obligatory subjects during enrolling. At the same time, during the school year at the preparatory departments, applicants must complete an intensive course on Ukrainian subjects and, by the end of the year, be enrolled for study at the first year. It is important to provide state orders for preparatory departments, including scholarships and dormitories.

As it was already noted, the Draft Law was developed by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine concerning the preparatory departments for entrants from Crimea. The Open Policy Foundation calls for the addition of a Draft Law "On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine "On Higher Education" on ensuring the right to higher education of persons whose place of residence is the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine" -and extending its validity for entrants from SDDLR. It is important to pass the law as soon as possible and hold an active informational campaign.

Materials were prepared by Iryna ZHDANOVA, Executive Director of the Non-governmental organization "Open Policy Foundation", phone number: 044 279 00 96, 095 544 51 69, е-mail: openpolicy.org.ua@gmail.com.