March 5, 2014
KYIV, Ukraine, March 4, 2014 – Serhiy Kvit, president of National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy and newly appointed Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine, introduced the newly appointed deputy ministers and announced reform policies in the area of education. First Deputy Minister Inna Sovsun, Deputy Minister Chief of Staff Alexei Dniprova, and Deputy Minister Pavlo Polansky participated in the press conference held by the ministry.
“Our main focus will be on the quality of education. The key to quality in education is establishing first-rate universities. The primary task before us is to adopt a new ‘Law on Higher Education’, the draft of which was developed by the so-called ‘Zhurovsky Group,’ in which I personally participated,” stated Kvit.
Kvit added that the Ministry is in close contact with the Parliamentary Committee on Education in Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (Parliament), chaired by People’s Deputy Dr. Lilia Hrynevych, and that every effort will be made for the adoption of a reform law on higher education in the first and second reading during the current session.
Minister Kvit stated that documents are being prepared to simplify higher education reporting requirements. He noted that “The Ministry will move away from the previous emphasis on daily controls of educational institutions to an approach of assisting them achieve quality of education. That is, the focus of our attention will be on quality – quality of learning, quality of teaching, and quality of research. The job of the Ministry is to encourage educational institutions to achieve their highest quality potential, not to put controls over them.” Minister Kvit announced numerous changes toward reforms. He stated that the Ministry will work toward simplifying reporting requirements to reduce the paper load of documentation, which he called “paper-creativity”, that consumed faculty time, instead of freeing them to prepare their lessons and conduct their research.
He said, “Government inspection of educational institutions will not have repressive functions. This I wish to emphasize. Unfortunately, such was its function in the past”. In addition, Minister Kvit announced, “the Ministry of Education declines to engage in issuing government ratings of universities, as the government should not evaluate itself”. He explained that university ratings should be the function of independent organizations, that there are plenty of adequate independent rating entities in Ukraine that conduct annual surveys using various methods and criteria.
Minister Kvit also stated that the Ministry will initiate the establishment of an independent Ukrainian Attestation Commission that will develop a system for the requirements and defense of doctoral dissertations, and the awarding of degrees and academic accomplishments. “The practice of requiring payments from students and parents for workbooks, books and other study aids will be stopped”, Kvit emphasized.
He said that special consideration must be provided to children and students at this time of stress during the crisis in the nation. Minister Kvit directed himself to the current situation in Crimea. He stated, “At this time we find ourselves in a state of military intervention of a neighbor country. The Ministry of Education and Research will focus its attention and care toward the educational institutions of Crimea and they will be included in the ministry’s budget…. so that the children and students of Crimea will have opportunities to be admitted and attend universities. This is very important. I believe that we will be united on this matter. We understand the situation in which Crimean educational institutions find themselves. We will pay special attention to their financial needs and the contacts, so that we can do everything that is necessary to bring the academic year to a close, to prepare for admissions for next year, so that the children and the interests of the people of Crimea do not suffer.”
In a special tribute, Dr. Kvit addressed the members of Ukraine’s military and security forces. He stated, “All of you should know that we think about you, we remember your sacrifices, and we are proud of you. Right now, you are the individuals who are making Ukraine’s history. You are not alone. We will certainly be victorious. Ukraine will be victorious and will be independent”.
Deputy Prime Minister Inna Sovsun stated that the Ministry will emphasize transparency, that all procedures, requirements, rules, and orders will be published and available on the Ministry’s website. She added that technology experts have been engaged to make the information available, including financial information and reports. She also spoke about the importance of making dissertations publicly available electronically to insure against plagiarism and to raise the quality of research and dissertations to a competitive international level.
Deputy Minister Pavlo Polanskyj, who headed the non-governmental organization, “Center of Education Monitoring”, commented that much work is needed to raise the level of professional institutions of learning, such as medical institutes. He added that experts on each area of specialty and the Academy of Pedagogical Studies will be included in the planned reforms. Minister Kvit concluded by stating that an audit of the activities of the Ministry of Education will be conducted by an international auditing firm that agreed to perform pro-bono service. Minister Serhiy Kvit requested that Ukrainian educators contact their friends, colleagues and partners in the Russian Federation, so that they keep them informed of the events and reforms that are taking place in Ukraine.