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Ukraine’s “local” and “original” reforms seem to be carried out in conditions of severe cognitive dissonance. On the one hand, there are some clear patterns, and on the other, there is a harsh reality. The ordinary citizens are in a state of constant mental discomfort, and clashes of conflicting ideas take place in the walls of the building on Hrushevsky Street.
Something similar happens with the so-called educational reform, especially with regard to changing the state order. Ukrainian youth suffers from a primitive sequestration or "ordinary murder" of the system of socialization under the guise of the need to correlate these objectives with the development of the real sector of the economy.
Everything is done on the basis of some good intentions. Like, there is a huge state order concerning the educating students in Ukrainian higher educational institutions for budgetary funds. Significant government funds are spent for it, billions of hryvnia, and as a result, the state receives thousands of lawyers and economists, who would become a labor migrant, picking the notorious Polish berries. At the same time, the number of people with basic vocational-technical education is dramatically reduced, and soon it will be problematic to find a person who can use a hammer and pliers. It would seem that this is a purely "German" solution: to bring the state order in the higher education system in line with the needs of the economy and the structure of the real sector. On the one hand, this will lead to enormous savings in the budgetary resources, and on the other hand, it will improve the quality of human capital and employment after graduation.
This just a theory, but in practice, it comes out somewhat differently. German experience does not work in Ukraine. The problems of youth employment and the development of the higher education system in Germany and Ukraine, to put it mildly, are somewhat different. Different like a luxury "Tavria" car and a cheap "Mercedes." After all, European countries have an effective model of the economy, and the state can elaborate a quality educational policy on its basis.
Today, Ukraine’s real sector is gradually moving to simple commodity cycles. If earlier production with a high level of added value in the structure of exports occupied 15-20% (machine building mainly), now it is about 5-8%, and this figure continues to decline. Thus, if we model the system of the state order proceeding from the needs of the raw materials industries, it will be necessary to train young Ukrainians for combine operators and metallurgists. On the one hand, there is a specific request for these professions, and on the other hand, we do not need hundreds of thousands of combine harvesters.
In addition, developed countries have a whole set of the effective mechanisms for the socialization of young generations, and Ukraine has only one tool – higher education. Let it be a partial, not entirely reliable tool, but it is the only one. Speaking about the "tentacles" of the Soviet past, we inherited a powerful educational complex of hundreds of profile universities and several universities with a world-wide reputation. And now let us imagine what hundreds of thousands of the Ukrainians that finish school every year will do if there are no available higher education institutions in their homeland?
In July this year, our Cabinet has approved new volumes of the state order for the training of specialists, scientists, and workers. Speaking about the "specialists" segment, the state order amounted to 171 thousand people (day studies), or 9.5% less compared to the previous year. Associate professionals were "sequestered" the most – 30.6% less. Bachelor's quota fell by 4.2% (3.5% for the day studies).
If we analyze the number of students admitted to higher educational institutions, we will see that the educational peak occurred in 2002-2008: the total number of accreditation levels accepted to the universities students was more than 600 thousand. It was facilitated not so much by the demographic factors but rather by the need for the socialization of the younger generation of Ukrainians. Compared with the early 90s of the last century, there was a large-scale transformation of the education system: if in 1991 educational institutions of 1-2 levels of accreditation (technical schools, colleges, colleges) were accepted by almost 240 thousand people, then in higher educational institutions of 3-4 levels institutes, academies, universities), there were 170 thousand, that is, 1.4 times less. The parity between schools and institutes was reached in 1994, and in 2002, 3-4 times more students were enrolled in higher educational institutions of the 3-4 levels than in the educational institutions of the 1-2 levels of accreditation. According to the results of the last year, 264 thousand people entered higher educational institutions of the third level and 59 thousand to the higher educational institutions of the 1st level. That is, there are four or five university students per one student from a technical school or college.
In 1991, the total number of students in the universities with 1-4 accreditation levels was 1.6 million people, and by the end of 2017 – there were 1.5 million people, and this despite the significant difference in a number of demographic indicators of our time and the 90's. In simple words, now the depth of socialization of youth with the help of higher education is several times higher than it used to be some 27 years ago. One of the undeniable achievements of the times of Ukraine’s independence is the accessibility of higher education. Unfortunately, the prestige of education in colleges and technical schools has decreased radically.
If we compare the period 1990/1991 and 2017/2018, we will see that in the first case 757 thousand people studied at the universities of the 1-2 levels of accreditation, and 881 thousand in the universities of 3-4 levels. In recent years the situation has changed dramatically: in the 2017/2018 educational period there were 209 thousand in the universities of the 1-2 levels of accreditation, but the number of students of higher educational institutions of the 3-4 levels increased to 1.33 million.
All this statistics tell us that in the 90s higher education has been a mold of the industrial economy of the Soviet times and has only partially fulfilled the function of socialization. Nowadays, higher education has completely lost its connection with the real sector of the economy due to the gradual degradation. Our higher education has only two ways: it might degrade together with the economy, reducing the unnecessary occupations of "pilots and cosmonauts," or to find a new niche for using its potential. After all, if a person becomes a labor migrant, who has graduated from Ukrainian high school, she still has all the chances to return home. Thus, by making a state order for the education of young Ukrainians in the local universities, the state actually buys their home socialization for some 4-5 years.
Realizing the state order, the country not only socializes its youth but also makes a strategic investment for the next 5-10 years. Especially considering the rather modest cost-based mechanism of the domestic universities. Let hundreds of thousands of economists and lawyers work as drivers or sales advisors, but they would work in Ukraine and pay taxes here. By cutting down the state order, the government is shooting itself in the foot. Because under these circumstances, it forces the Ukrainians not only to labor migration but also to the educational one.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 112.International and its owners.