Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Civic Education in Ukraine Gets a Boost

Civic education in Ukraine is beginning to blossom. Last fall Street Law, working with Pact International, a coalition of five Ukrainian NGOs dedicated to developing civic education throughout the country, and the Ministry of Education and Science (MOES), began to develop a new civics curriculum for Ukrainian students.

In June 2018, the coalition held their largest meeting thus far — numbering nearly 70 education and NGO leaders and administrators, curriculum writers, and classroom teachers.

Since October 2017, Street Law’s role has been to advise educators on how to design pilot civic education courses, train teachers to deliver them, and perform a comprehensive assessment of the pilot courses run by teachers.

For the June meeting, Street Law executive director Lee Arbetman, along with manager of international programs Ben Perdue and Tufts University professor (and member of Street Law board of directors) Peter Levine returned to Ukraine to present the findings of the course assessments.

Because the courses were short due to timeline constraints, the assessment reflected modest but not significant gains in knowledge, skills and attitudes of students. However, what could be called the “democratic environment” of the schools did show improvement. For example, after the classes, students responded more favorably to questions about whether they feel their voice is being heard in the classroom, and whether they feel they can respectfully disagree with their teachers. This effect could be seen primarily at the university level.

In addition, teachers reported that the systematic collection of data was helpful in measuring not just students’ degree of knowledge or the amount of openness in the classroom, but also their attitudes towards peoples of other cultures. These types of data are not typically captured in Ukrainian schools.

Generally, the program represents a valuable first step in the path towards improved civic education in Ukraine. As the pilot programs expand, the goal continues to be a greater openness to the ideas of participatory education and skill development in pursuit of stronger civic education.

For more information on our international programs, contact Ben Perdue.