The Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine F education trade union affiliates have written an open letter to the President of Ukraine and others protesting at the cuts in education.
Dear Mr President,
Dear Mr Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada,
Dear Mr Prime Minister
We are writing to you in connection with the catastrophic situation in the system of vocational education in Ukraine due to adoption of the Law of Ukraine ‘On the State Budget of Ukraine 2016’. Article 27 of this Law instructs the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to ensure until 1 January 2016 the due transfer the funding of training in the vocational and other educational institutions from local budgets. At the same time, mechanisms of transfer of the VET institutions to the local budget were not developed. The transfer of expenditures was made without providing adequate resources to the local budgets. This can lead to irreversible consequences: destruction of the system of vocational education in Ukraine that will adversely affect the economy and defence capacity of our country.
The mentioned radical action is violating certain articles of the Constitution of Ukraine, in particular Part 3 Article 142 ‘Costs of local authorities, resulting from decisions of the public authorities, shall be compensated by the State’, and Part 3 Article 53 ‘The State ensures accessible and free pre-school, complete general secondary, vocational and higher education in state-owned and communal educational establishments.’
Provided for in the Law of Ukraine ‘On the State Budget of Ukraine 2016’ monitoring of financial provision of vocational education state-owned schools at the expense of the regional and municipal (cities of regional significance) budgets and making, if necessary, proposals for amendments to the budget law in the first quarter of 2016, may be delayed because the system of training skilled workers in Ukraine is threatened with termination of its existence.
Ignoring these problems will inevitably exacerbate already difficult state of vocational education in Ukraine. In 1990-2015, the network of public schools and institutions of vocational education decreased by 34%, and skilled workers decreased by 56%. Upgrade of material and technical basis of the vocational schools is practically not funded. The budget funds allocated for the maintenance of the vocational schools is enough only for major items of expenditure (wages with taxes, incomplete utilities and energy, scholarships, food and mandatory payments to orphans and children deprived of parental care). Teachers’ wages and scholarships of students of vocational schools are negligible and cause the low prestige of vocational education in the society.
Despite the problems, the system of vocational education in Ukraine provides the national economy with highly skilled workers. Today more than 300,000 people have been provided with vocational training in 35 areas and economic activities of 500 occupations in more than 800 state-owned vocational schools. In addition, the system of vocational education has important social functions including providing with training orphans and children deprived of parental care, children from single-parent families, children with special educational needs, and unemployed.
The radical change in financing can lead to elimination of many vocational schools that will increase social tension, worsen crime situation, decline of the economy and deprive Ukraine of not only European integration prospects, but in general maintain the status of prospects of economically developed nation. The limited capacity of the state in financing the vocational education can be solved by studying and implementing effective foreign practices of funding: targeted normative funding (France), funding for results (UK, USA), direct funding by individuals through educational vouchers, grants, loans, etc. (UK, Austria, Belgium, France), multi-level funding (USA, France), dual training system combining public funding with employers’ contributions (Germany, Denmark), funding through various schemes of taxation, lucrative economic activity of educational institutions (in most countries of the world, etc.
Based on the above we propose:
– To continue in 2016 the funding of the vocational educational institutions in the form of subsidies from the State Budget to local budgets;
– To define a transition period of three years (2016-2018) in order to perform optimisation of the VET institutions network;
– To identify the categories of schools that can be transferred to the local budget, and those that should remain in the state funding due to the specifics of training in certain areas (mining, metallurgy, engineering, transport, defence industry, communications, etc.).
We kindly ask you to support our proposals which will help preserve the state’s role in ensuring the availability and quality of the vocational education, contribute to meeting the needs of the national economy for the highly skilled, competitive and professionally mobile workforce.
President of Science and Education Workers’ Union of Ukraine
Academician-Secretary of Vocational and Adult Education Department of NAPS of Ukraine, member of NAPS Ukraine
President of All-Ukrainian Association of Vocational Education Workers
FPU Presidium members