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Open classroom windows into the future: Ukraine learns from the experience of Israel

May 4, 2018, 5:58 p.m.

The representatives of the NGO “Open Policy Foundation”, Embassy of the State of Israel in Ukraine, and MASHAV told about the interesting experience, the latest practices, and future cooperation between Ukraine and Israel at the last press conference that was held on April 27 at the National News Agency of Ukraine “Ukrinform.” The event on the topic “OPEN CLASSROOM WINDOWS INTO THE FUTURE! Cooperation between Ukraine and Israel in science education, STrEAM-learning, and student engagement in creating startups” united the speakers from different countries and continents.

During the visit to Israel, the delegation of the NGO “Open Policy Foundation” together with Chief Specialist of the Department of Secondary Education and Pre-school Education of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine Valeria Hokhman, Deputy Chairman of the Luhansk Regional State Administration Olga Lischyk, and Head of the Council of Young Scientists at the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine Yuriy Krashchenko participated in the Israeli-Ukrainian Educational Forum 2018 “Transformation of education: exchanging best practices and creating partnerships” in Tel Aviv, and also visited many educational and scientific institutions there.

“The visit to Israel was made possible by the support of the Embassy of Israel in Ukraine, the Embassy of Ukraine in Israel, and the NGO “Israeli Friends in Ukraine”, – noticed Executive Director of the NGO “Open Policy Foundation”, Coordinator of the Network “Civil Platform for the Reform of the Scientific Sphere in Ukraine”, founder of the International Green School, MASHAV alumni, Ph.D. Iryna ZHDANOVA. – I thank MASHAV for creating intercontinental networking, giving the opportunity to develop innovative ideas. Our task is to disseminate progressive experience in Ukraine at the regional level and at the level of specific communities. In Israel, we were impressed by the innovative school experience, new approaches to the organization of the educational process, and the involvement of students in science and creating startups. In addition, there is a flexible approach to each student. The education system is diverse and allows every child to find himself or herself, depending on his or her own abilities. We are convinced that Ukraine needs to learn from the experience of a startup country that fosters the science education. The development of inclusive education should provide access for children with special needs and disabilities to quality education. However, inclusive education services should be also created for gifted children - this is also inclusive. After all, if a gifted child from a poor family lives in the highland village Kosmach, in Sievierodonetsk or in Shchastya, she or he also has the right to access to innovative education.”

Executive Director of the NGO “Open Policy Foundation” presented a roadmap for reforming the secondary education in Ukraine (specialized scientific boarding schools). In the context of access to STrEAM education for children from remote areas and students affected by armed conflict, Iryna Zhdanova presented a new Open GREEN STrEAM project, developed for Luhanska and Ivano-Frankivska oblasts. This project will be implemented on the basis of the International Green School in the highland region of the Ukrainian Carpathians. The Head of the Foundation described the concrete steps of cooperation between the two countries in the development of innovative science education.

“Together with my colleague Iryna Oleynyk, we are engaged in MASHAV activities in Ukraine. It is the agency for the development of international cooperation, the main task of which is to share Israeli experience with partner countries, – noted Head of Political Department of Israel Embassy Reut Shapir BEN-NAFTALY. – Israel shares experiences in those areas where it has achieved significant success: agriculture, education, and so on. MASHAV has two types of cooperation with other countries. The first is the international training practical courses. Although the diplomatic relations between Ukraine and Israel have continued for 26 years, the number of participants in these courses has tripled in the last three years only. Moreover, after the completion of the courses, we continue to cooperate with our graduates: we select the best projects in the field of agriculture, education, and science and provide a grant for their implementation. The second type of cooperation is when Israeli experts come to Ukraine and conduct learning trainings. It takes place not only in Kyiv but also in Kharkiv, Dnipro, and Poltava; this year, we hope, the courses will be conducted in Ivano-Frankivsk. Thus, our main task is to increase the number of participants who will go to Israel and gain new knowledge. Iryna Zhdanova also attended our courses. The first step was the visit to Israel, which set into motion our cooperation. MASHAV has focused on agriculture and rehabilitation over the last two years. However, during the meeting of the Ministers of education of Ukraine and Israel, it was decided that we would also direct efforts to support science and education in Ukraine. We are waiting for future projects and cooperation.”

The other speakers from different countries joined the discussion via a Skype connection. “We offer STEM courses for teachers and educators in many countries, – told Deputy Director of the Aharon Ofri International Training Center Damian FILUT. – These courses share the idea of the 21st-century education. We believe that STEM is about interdisciplinary education and blurring the boundary between school and reality. At the same time, we teach our students new ideas in mathematics, programming, which will give the skills for the students to face the future, that we don’t know how it is going to look like. But we know that providing these skills will give them the resources to live in a constantly changing reality, in a country that builds its economy and develops it for the next 15-20 years. We bring educators to Israel and inspire them, showing how we do STEM in our schools. The STEM is the basis around which the nation is formed. Israel and Ukraine should develop cooperation that enriches both countries. Ukraine has the knowledge and potential and can develop it”.

“Visiting Israel, for what I am very grateful to all the organizers, I realized that approaches to education can be different, – noted Deputy Chairman of the Luhansk Regional State Administration Olga LISCHYK. – We saw how STEM education is being implemented in Israeli schools and how children are involved inscience, innovations, and startups. Therefore, we are interested in the possibility of implementing a new STEM project in Luhanska oblast together with the Open Policy Foundation, and we are ready to cooperate. Now Luhanska oblast is divided as a result of the armed conflict. Part of our region, which is controlled by Ukraine, is mostly agrarian. Therefore, it is interesting to us that the project will be aimed at combining science with green values. We plan to involve seven agrarian colleges, vocational schools, and higher educational institutions with scientific potential, as well as agrarian enterprises”.

“The main purpose of the schools in Nigeria is to distribute STEM education. And we believe that the basic idea of such training is based on experiments, – told STEM Trainer of WAAW Foundation, Coordinator of the project “STEM for Girls”, MASHAV alumni from Nigeria Lucy IKPESU. – In our schools, we introduce girls to STEM-education. It develops, motivates, and inspires the students in society. The STEM is an experimental learning approach that motivates and inspires the students. It is very important because it is based on project learning, as well as problem-solving, the development of critical thinking among students. We introduce teachers to STEM-programs, teach them how to use experimental way of learning, show students how to make projects using simple, cheap, and available materials. So, the STEM is very relevant today. I hope that in the near future Ukraine will also develop its society by integrating STEM-education into the classrooms”.

Iryna Zhdanova summed up that the windows of Ukrainian schools need to be open into the future, drawing on the experience of successful innovative countries. However, it is necessary to develop science education based on Ukrainian traditions. “As Mahatma Gandhi noticed, “I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any...” – ended the head of the Foundation.

Organizers of the press conference: NGO “Open Policy Foundation”, Network “Civil Platform for the Reform of the Scientific Sphere in Ukraine”, and NGO “Israeli Friends of Ukraine” with the assistance of the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter, the Embassy of Ukraine in the State of Israel, the Embassy of Israel in Ukraine, and the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine.

Video of the press conference:

About the pilot project Open GREEN STrEAM that will be implemented on the basis of the International Green School, and the cooperation with Israel - in the article of the National News Agency of Ukraine “Ukrinform”

How to combine innovative education with traditional art - in the commentars of Iryna Zhdanova for "Radio Liberty" on the day of the centenary of the Ukrainian National Republic proclamation

Video clip about the International Green School