Thoughts about the higher education: survival in times of war

Today, when 20% of the territory of Ukraine is occupied, 30 to 50% of the economy of Ukraine is lost, 10% of the Ukrainian universities` infrastructure is destroyed, the question of how to survive for the higher education and universities is in the foreground. Different options in this regard are discussed both openly or behind the scene.
Oleksandr Krasnokutskyi
Professor of the Zaporizkyi National University
I am convinced that there are key options in this discussion:
1. The senses

This means to keep asking "What are we surviving for?", "What is the sense? Why do we need universities and higher education in general? Whom are we teaching? What are we teaching? How the knowledge received in the university could be applied?

There is no sense in discussing other issues without giving answers to these main questions.

Firstly, we should decide what is the ideal model of the higher education in Ukraine? This is an open question now, despite the established Strategy of the Development of the Higher Education in Ukraine in 2022-2032. The peculiar fact, that the Strategy was introduced and enacted on the 23d of February 2022 (№ 286-p), just in the eve of the huge destructive war beginning, the war that changed everything around us. The reality we are facing now demands a profound strategy review that could even result in adopting a completely new strategy.
2. The first question is followed by another, even more wide – "What the Ukraine will be like in the future?"

So we should go further and give our vision on what is the ideal model of Ukraine.

We should always keep in mind the fact that education, particularly, higher education is oriented to produce a professionals for a particular social and political system, in this way the education system is the intellectual continuation of the political and economic system.

The survival of the education system is linked to the question what kind of system it has to be, which means what kind of professionals the system will need. Hypothetically, it`s hard to imagine that an agriculture oriented country will need the professionals in aircrafts engineering, rocket and space technology or shipbuilding.

The ideological model of the future Ukraine is still an open question. The one to work on for the society and Progresylni as their part.
3. The quantity of the higher education institutions is a very painful question. But we should discuss how much of them will survive and will be ready to teach in the future. What quantity of the universities will Ukraine need after the war?

Evidently, the amount of the higher education institutions is exaggerated up to several hundreds. The question of their optimisation will be inevitably put after the war will come to the end for the hole Ukraine. There are a number of algorithms of the optimisation. One of the possibilities – to have one big basic university in each region. The world`s statistic shows the number of one university for one million of people.

But this option is still an open question.
4. The question of regulation of the profession and establishing the norms of the lecturers` working hours.

These norms haven't changed for decades, almost 30 years already. The circumstances were different at that times and the students approach as well. The way we teach now has changed with the influence of the Internet and computer technology, although the approaches on how the salary of the lecturers is formed haven't changed since then.

"Who receives the money and for what?" should be the checkpoint for the higher education employee payment, legally established.

Some attempts in this regard are already made, for example, Professional Standard of the professions "The lecturer of the higher education", enacted by the Decree of the Ministry of economic development, trade and agriculture of Ukraine 23.03.2021 № 610.

In practice, every ukrainian lecturer of the university, considers that his personal teacher`s workload increased because of the war and necessity to do online teaching together with preparing optional tasks to those, who work remotely and can not connect. This didn't affect the payment at all.

This question remains open.
5. Quality of the "people resource", those who teach and those who learn in the higher education institutions in Ukraine now.

I am convinced that only a free, self- sufficient, spiritually rich and developed lecturer can be a leader for the generation of the Ukrainians that are growing now to renovate Ukraine. So it is the time to make a kind of "revision" for those, who are teaching now.

The destruction of the higher education institutions buildings, laboratories, bases of practice, schools and libraries is evident and significant and their rebuilding will need significant funds. The examples of other countries during the war shows that the destruction of the education infrastructure is not accidental, but on the contrary it was purposeful, aimed to destroy the basis of the state governing, cultural and intellectual centres and national identity. This happened in Mozambique, Sudan, Afghanistan, Angola, Guatemala and Columbia. Additional funding will be needed to turn back to ordinary learning process.

Big education institutions, especially universities, can be amalgamated and relocated to safest regions. Obviously, in this way you can not avoid destruction of the material resources that the institution had previously, but it is the way to safe lives of the stuff, safe the documentary and finally to start teaching permanently in the new location. There are examples of this practice during The II World War, Kyiv and Kharkiv Universities were united and evacuated to Kazakhstan and other safe places.

Teaching process can be interrupted during the war. There are examples of conducting lectures at the basement while the fighting takes place. Sometimes the teaching process was interrupted for a long period of time, for example in Palestinian-Israel conflict, when teaching was interrupted for months, this normally happens when the institution is situated at a front line. This prevents from the free movement for both, teachers and students. Due to abovementioned the educational process struggles from the lack of systematicity, the process of assessmenting and receiving documents about education.

Another danger, that education faces is the intension to kill teachers and lecturers as the representatives of the intellectuals, and to destruct completely the education system. Deprivation of the right to education or its significant limitation was a popular strategy for the invaders. These examples took place during the occupation of the Ukrainian territory in the II World War. The education on the occupied territories included 4 years of school for every child. Usually, the local population are rejected to get higher education. The invaders are interested in suppression of any signs of national identity, which involves national language, culture and history, that is linked to education.
P.S. Every meeting is a good reason for the reflection and revaluation. Thanks to my colleagues from Progresylni for having opportunity to meet online, for your ideas and proposals of relocated universities and those, who remained at the based place.
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