Visit of Education International solidarity mission to Ukraine

On May 8-11, 2023, a delegation from Education International, a global union federation of 383 affiliated organizations of teachers and educators from around the world, and the American Federation of Teachers, which unites 1.7 million members, visited Ukraine at the invitation of the Trade Union of Education and Science of Ukraine. The purpose of the visit of international colleagues is to study the situation in the country's education sector and the challenges that Ukrainian educators face on a daily basis during the war.

Georgiy Trukhanov informed EI mission about the situation in the Ukrainian education sector and the challenges faced by Ukrainian educators during more than a year of war. He told about the work of educators under the martial law and the daily work of the organization to protect the rights of trade union members. The President of the Trade Union highlighted that thanks to the financial assistance received from the EI Solidarity fund and using its own funds the Trade Union is able to provide support to its members who suffered from the war, who were wounded or whose relatives were killed by russian army.

"This is a very important step for us. We want to see for ourselves the state of education in the country and identify opportunities that Education International and the American Federation of Teachers can use to further mobilize international solidarity and help Ukrainian teachers provide quality education in these difficult times," stated David Edwards, EI General Secretary.

Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, in turn, noted that Ukraine is the voice of democracy and freedom. And the AFT will continue to support Ukrainian educators in their heroic struggle.

In conclusion, the parties discussed further cooperation for the benefit of Ukrainian education and educators, as well as the Trade Union's plans to rebuild and resume the activities of the trade union camp after the war to provide psychological assistance to children and teachers.

The Trade Union hopes that Education International's assistance will help launch and develop future projects with the organizations, UNESCO and Unicef, with whom they met during the EI's stay in Kyiv.

The Trade Union President stated that the organization would continue its core activities and at the same time do everything possible to help all educators who apply to the union to receive the necessary assistance.

Meeting with the Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine 

The participants of the meeting discussed priority issues in the development of education in Ukraine, including the safety of teachers and schoolchildren in the educational process, reforms to build a capable education system based on professionalism and focused on continuous self-improvement, analysis and continuing reforms of general secondary, vocational and higher education. They also discussed the Ministry's cooperation with international trade union organizations and communication with education trade unions in Ukraine.

Georgiy Trukhanov, President of the Trade Union, emphasized that effective and constructive social dialogue between the Ministry and education trade union will helps to protect the rights and guarantees of teachers in a country that is waging a war of liberation.

Due to the post-Soviet image of all trade unions in general, every time the Minister of Education was replaced and a new one was appointed, the Trade Union of Education and Science of Ukraine had to prove to the new officials that the union works, matters and deserves respect. The meeting of the EI delegation and the Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of Ukraine with the leadership of the Ministry of Education was a new impetus for cooperation with the Ministry after the change of the Minister. It demonstrated that the international trade union movement is very powerful, and the Trade Union of Education Workers of Ukraine has strong support from the international community and is a reliable social partner.

Meeting with the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine 

The participants of the meeting discussed the current economic situation in Ukraine. Grygorii Osovyi, the FPU President, noted that all people in Ukraine are working to strengthen the country's defense capabilities and the livelihoods of its citizens.

The economic situation of workers in Ukraine today is extremely difficult: the minimum wage is frozen, inflation is 27%, unemployment is 26%, and the poverty rate has increased fourfold over the past year, with about 7 million people living below the poverty line. Therefore, in negotiations with social partners, trade unions emphasize the need to make changes and create conditions that would give people an incentive to return to Ukraine. Without proper support for employees, without guarantees of decent working conditions, Ukraine will have no labor resources left.

The Trade Union of Education and Science of Ukraine is a member organisation of the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine. With the support of the International Trade Union Movement, they could demonstrate a much stronger position and be a strong opponent in defending the rights and interests of their members.

Meeting with UNICEF 

At the meeting with Murat Shahin, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine, each of the parties spoke about the direction of their work and activities during martial law. Murat Shahin noted that in recent years, Ukraine has faced many challenges and issues to address: decentralization, childhood vaccination (such as the recent problem of polio), coronavirus and vaccination against it. These challenges also affected the education system and its quality. Now the war is a new difficult and scary period for everyone. 

He highlighted that now the main focus of the organization is to restore opportunities for young people. That is why UNICEF is creating education support centers for children and youth, equipping shelters for schools and other children's institutions. He noted that it is important that childhood is not lost and that children do not experience discomfort and difficulties after studying online.

Meeting with UNESCO Desk in Ukraine

On the meeting with Chiara Dezzi, Head of UNESCO Desk in Ukraine, she stated that UNESCO's main objective during martial law is to ensure the continuity of teaching and learning for Ukrainian teachers and children. UNESCO provides computer hardware and equipment to support online teaching and learning, develops digital education platforms, strengthens the psychosocial support and care system for crisis-affected populations. 

Both organizations have been actively involved in the development of the education system and its reconstruction during and after the war and are open to cooperation with civil society organizations to facilitate and improve the lives of educators and youth.

Meeting with Mayor of Kyiv, Vitalii Klitschko 

The mayor informed the members of the delegation and the representatives of the Trade Union about Kyiv's experience in organizing the educational process under martial law.

He noted that from the very first days of the large-scale war unleashed by Russia, Kyiv educators have shown their courage and dedication to the profession. Some of them went to fight against aggressor, others stayed to work for the sake of children. They taught from basements, bomb shelters online, supported children and parents. In several weeks after the beginning of the war education institutions in Kyiv were prepared to work under martial law. A new school year was started in a mixed format - face-to-face, online and individual education.

Vitali Klitschko noted that currently 44% of students are studying full-time, 47% remotely, and 9% individually. The network of general secondary education institutions in Kyiv includes 581 institutions of various types and forms of ownership. Of these, 428 are municipal institutions, 145 are private, and eight are state-owned. Almost 300 thousand students study in municipal schools.

Nearly 70,000 people, including 1,500 internally displaced persons are employed in Kyiv education system. During the war, two education departments from the occupied territories moved to Kyiv. The Mariupol Lyceum resumed its work in the capital. The budget of the education sector accounts for 40% of the city's budget.

Vitalii Klitschko emphasized, that the teachers in the capital have the highest salaries in Ukraine and they are paid on time and in full. This year, all additional payments and allowances have been preserved, including the 30% municipal allowance

In preparation for the new 2022-23 school year, shelters were arranged in educational institutions in the capital as part of the city's Safe Educational Environment program. Only those schools with the simplest shelters were opened for full-time education. The schools that do not have bomb shelters operate online. Today, 97% of municipal schools have shelters.

The efforts of the Kyiv authorities are also focused on repairing educational institutions damaged by the russian occupiers, 95 of which (schools, kindergartens, and vocational education institutions) have been damaged since the beginning of the war.

General Secretary of Education International David Edwards emphasized that it is very important for the delegation members to see the work of educators in this extremely difficult time and expressed his admiration for Ukrainian educators who continue their work despite everything. He also stressed the importance of cooperation between the organizations, on the importance of working together with trade unions and teachers, given their extensive experience and knowledge.

Oleksandr Yatsun, Head of the Kyiv City Organization of the Trade Union, informed about the work of the organization in the context of the war and the protection of the rights and interests of every educator, teacher, and lecturer. He noted that thanks to the diligent work of educators, Ukraine has such strong and selfless patriots of Ukraine who are now defending our country. From the first days of the Russian aggression to the present day, Kyiv educators have been volunteering, weaving nets for the front, preparing dry rations, etc. to help Ukrainian defenders on the front line.

 

International Department

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