Is study possible with military actions going on in a country or is it necessary to renew educational processes at all when a war is happening? These questions have been long discussed in Ukraine with the start of Russia’s full-fledged invasion of our territory.
As Ukraine’s minister of education reported, as of 24 March more than 566 educational institutions are damaged or ruined. The military aggressors are attacking Ukrainian cities. They are firing on the civilian population, residential buildings, day-care centers, schools, colleges, and universities. We at UCU are, however, convinced that we have, in whatever circumstances, to foster wisdom, knowledge, culture, and study and, if possible, to continue the educational process.
Because of the military situation and exceptionally difficult conditions in Ukraine, many students are not able to continue studies at their universities, many of which are ruined or under fire. Students, however, can join in open proposals which the Ukrainian Catholic University and other universities of Ukraine and the world today are creating for us. So, how is it possible to be an institution of higher education while, for now, there are no obstacles to renewing the educational process?
From 4 April, according to an order of the Ministry of Education of Ukraine regarding the organization of the work of institutions of higher education during wartime, the Ukrainian Catholic University will renew studies in full. With the need to continue education in wartime conditions, there will be various formats and flexible schedules, stated UCU’s Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs Dmytro Sherengovsky.
Looking to the experience of colleges in Georgia, with which the vice-rector the day before had a joint class, he emphasized challenges which Ukraine might face if it does not renew the functioning of particular processes: “Approximately 10% of the population left Georgia during military actions. After the war had ended and a truce was achieved with Russia, approximately 50% of the population left the country. This caused many economic and social problems. The departure of many professionals was caused because the Georgians consider themselves a small country in the shadow of a great monster. And so, communicating with them in these days of war, the Georgians warned: ‘Don’t do what we did!’”
According to the vice-rector, in a difficult, critical situation, Ukrainians should think about their future and how to ensure their further development: “Dear students, devote your efforts now to learning, so that, when the war finishes, we can quickly re-build our country. Think over what we can do for our country today. You are the generation which will have to work on improving effective processes in your country. Ukraine needs ‘young blood,’ smart professionals. We as a university can and want to help you so that the situation of a lack of specialists is not repeated, like with the Georgians. You have the choice, but I encourage you not to waste opportunities on the academic front,” said Dmytro Sherengovsky.
We add that, with the renewal of full-fledged education, student schedules will remain flexible, allowing them to volunteer for the country, as this remains a priority for each one. In addition, the administration of the university encourages students and professors to arrange effective organization of educational processes, understanding that the war continues, so be flexible and look for ways of mutual understanding.
According to UCU’s order regarding the renewal of full-fledged education, all participants in the educational process are allowed:
- To take part in the educational process in distance and hybrid (mixed online/offline) formats.
- In case it is not possible to ensure particular educational components, or maintain the schedule, heads of educational programs and deans of faculties can make changes in educational plans and schedules.
- In case students are not able to participate in the educational process, there will be opportunities to develop an individual plan of studies for them.
“If students today face certain difficulties, I encourage them not to remain silent but discuss them with the heads of educational programs. If it is necessary again to explain or extend the deadline for certain assignments, then I encourage teachers to talk it over with students. We in the community have to listen to one another and know how to discuss things. The Ukrainian nation today is being built on such arrangements, bravely opposing and repulsing the enemy,” emphasizes Dmytro Sherengovsky.
We add that the Ukrainian Catholic University has published the statement “The Network of Solidarity and Strategic Partnership with UCU,”», which encourages the international academic community to actively support Ukrainian students and scholars in this unjust war.
Also, each one can join in and support students, the academic community, professors, and refugees, who in this difficult time were forced to leave their homes, fleeing from the war. We at UCU strive to help on various fronts: educational, humanitarian, informational, spiritual, and medical. Please support us!