Batkivshchyna leader Yulia Tymoshenko says her deputies will support education reform if there is debate and agreement on key aspects of reform that factor in proposals made by her faction.
“If aspects that are not understandable for the Batkivshchyna party are corrected, then we will vote for this reform. We will work with the education minister and parliamentary faction to take into account Batkivshchyna’s suggestions, and will then support education reform,” Yulia Tymoshenko said during a briefing after the coordinating council of parliamentary faction and committee heads.
The parliamentarian said Batkivshchyna is concerned over a number of innovations of reform. Namely, Yulia Tymoshenko believes the quality of education will fall if a number of subjects are removed from the curriculum.
“Currently there are 22 mandatory basic subjects. Under the proposed education reforms, they want to eliminate subjects such as physics, chemistry, biology, Ukrainian language and literature, and replace these basic sciences, which teach critical and strategic thinking, with a single subject – man and nature,” she said angrily.
The politician noted that as a result of the planned reforms, Ukrainian language and literature will be combined with other subjects into “general literature,” and several basic school subjects will be combined into “man and society.”
“This means that our children will not have a deep and fundamental understanding of subjects that develop logic skills. We need to return to teaching basic subjects that are essential to building our nation’s intellect,” the Batkivshchyna leader said.
The second aspect that concerns the Batkivshchyna faction is early specialization in school.
“Specialization narrow’s a child’s intellect, view and understanding of the world. There can be specialization in special secondary or higher education, but not in basic education,” she explained.
The third concern deals with vocational schools and technical colleges, which under the draft law on education reform would be financed through private-state partnerships.
“In the absence of a private-state partnership or so-called sponsors, these institutions will be deprived of their licenses, buildings and land. This is corruption,” the parliamentarian said.
“This means there are people in the president’s circle who have their eye on the land and buildings of these institutions, and are planning a large-scale robbery at the expense of secondary technical education,” she added.
Yulia Tymoshenko also said the reforms envisage 147 billion hryvnias in financing, but that only 77 billion has been allocated by the government. Teacher salaries are also critically low, and the government plans to cut the state budget deficit by closing schools and further cutting the number of teachers.
“In the past three years more than one thousand schools have been closed, and 65,000 teachers were laid off. If this continues, Ukraine’s education system will be destroyed completely,” she warned.
Yulia Tymoshenko stressed there are positive aspects of education reform, but further work is needed to prevent potentially negative consequences.
“We as a nation have a high level of intellectual development. According to the UN, Ukraine is 6th in the world by level of intellect,” the parliamentarian said.
“If Batkivshchyna’s concerns are addressed then we will support education reform,” she concluded.