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Lidia VOYNASH: “Teachers of cooperative educational institutions have a significant impact on the educational process in the country, our ideas are listened to, they are adopted”

For many years, the head of the education sector of the consumer cooperation system in Ukraine has been a member of the Board of the Ukrkoopspilka, director of the Department of Personnel Policy, Education and Science, Director of the Training and Methodological Center “Ukooposvita” Lidia VOYNASH. There are lot of questions to Lydia Gerasymivna. We begin our conversation with a question that interests many – how successful was the 2020 admissions process for cooperative educational institutions, which for the first time took place in conditions of an epidemic of coronavirus and quarantine.

-Despite the situation in the country, those negative factors such as: lack of the government order for training specialists in cooperative educational institutions, lack of financing of general education training at the expense of the educational subvention, reduction in the number of school graduates, changes in the form of the entrance test to the master’s program, low paying capacity of the population, the pandemic, which further strengthened all these problems, cooperative educational institutions successfully conducted the admission campaign. The results are very positive, encouraging, – says Lidia Voynash. – Here are the figures. According to operative data, after all, admission is still carried out for distance learning, for training in all specialties, educational and educational-professional levels, forms of education enrolled 6686 people, which is 7.5% more than last year.

2,939 people were enrolled to receive educational degrees of junior bachelor, bachelor and master in all specialties and forms of education, which is 2.4% less than last year. But here we must take into account that the conditions for admission to the master’s degree have changed, and students themselves do not want to obtain this higher level. Previously, the only entrance exam in a foreign language concerned individual specialties, this year – the vast majority, and next year the draft conditions of admission to all specialties will be a single entrance test. Therefore, the number of those wishing to enter the master’s program is decreasing. Although, despite all the troubles, the number of applicants to the Lviv University of Trade and Economics has been increased this year at all degrees – both bachelor’s and master’s.

Compared to last year, the enrollment of bachelor students in the following specialties has increased: Economics, Management, Philology, Tourism, Hotel and Restaurant Business, Marketing, while the number of students in the following specialties has decreased: Information, Library and Archival Science, Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Food Technology, Journalism, Law, Entrepreneurship, Trade and Exchange Activity, International Economic Relations, Computer Science.

Recruitment of students through integrated curricula, that is, college graduates who have chosen to continue their studies for a bachelor’s degree, has been conducted. Therefore, 1,292 cooperative college graduates are enrolled in all of our universities and institutes.

In the structure of students enrolled for a bachelor’s degree, college graduates make up 57%, including full-time education – 29%, part-time – 86%.

Most of the graduates of Kherson, Kharkiv, Chernivtsi, Poltava, Novomoskovsk, Rivne, Cherkasy and Mukachevo colleges are enrolled in the Lviv University of Trade and Economics and Poltava University of Economics and Trade. In other words, the colleges continue working closely with our universities, and the results are positive. These are the entry rates for bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

As for colleges, in which enrollment is carried out in accordance with the new Law of Ukraine “On Professional Before Higher Education”, 3747 students are enrolled for the degree of professional junior bachelor, which is 17% more than last year.

According to the results of this year’s admission campaign, the largest number of students enrolled in Lviv College, Khmelnytsky Institute College, Poltava, Chernivtsi, Kherson, Novomoskovsk, Rivne and Kharkiv colleges.

Admission to Lutsk College LTEU, Mykolayiv College PUET, Sumy, Kirovohrad, Poltava Colleges, Cherkasy College PUET, Lviv College, Khmelnytskyi College HCTEI, Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi College of Economics and Law PUET has significantly increased compared to last year.

Compared to last year, enrollment in colleges has increased in the following specialties: Marketing, Management, Entrepreneurship, Trade and Exchange Activity, Law, Finance, Banking and Insurance, Accounting and Taxation, Hospitality and Computer Engineering. This year, in the structure of college applicants, the proportion of people entering on the basis of a complete general secondary education has significantly increased.

These results prove the main thing: cooperative educational institutions have a high image, are popular in the market of educational services because they have a good modern material and technical base, a high level of pedagogical and scientific-pedagogical workers who provide graduates with general and professional competencies. Our graduates are able to compete in the labor market. That is why young people come to us.

Another important reason is the systematic work of the teaching staff and administration to organize vocational guidance work.

– Lidia Gerasymivna, a sign of the present time is distance learning. This form requires significant changes in the organization of the educational process. Are cooperative educational institutions ready for this?

–Teaching staff analyzed the shortcomings in the organization of distance learning last school year, understood what needs to be changed, and today are already improving learning using distance technology. In addition, in June this year, the relevant ministry sent Recommendations on the introduction of blended learning in vocational higher and higher education institutions to provide methodological support to managers, teachers, and technical staff of educational institutions in initiating and development of blended learning.

Today, technically, our educational institutions are ready to teach remotely. And if they also developed a unified educational national program that would determine the principles of how to study in such conditions, it would greatly facilitate the situation. But so far there is nothing of the kind. This is why each educational institution decides for itself which services Zoom, Cisco Webex Teams, or others are better for carrying out the educational process.

– Lidia Gerasymivna, in recent years the heads of cooperative educational institutions have paid a lot of attention to the acquisition of professional competencies, industrial practices. And what will happen now?

– Nothing terrible happens in this area either. Of course, it is better for the student to go to a hotel or restaurant, to a production facility and see everything there, get practical skills. But if this is the case against our wishes, it is quite possible to get practical skills online. We have a lot of practical skills assignments developed. Professional competencies are not only acquired during on-the-job training. According to current curricula, more than half of the hours of the total curriculum are practical exercises. The main thing is that students have a desire to master everything. It is already clear that distance learning takes up a significant part of the time of the entire educational process.

– Lidia Gerasimovna, what worries you the most in the organization of education this year?

– The biggest concern is the health of both teachers and students.

I want to emphasize another problem. It is important for cooperative education today to receive an educational subvention to finance the acquisition of complete general secondary education by students of cooperative colleges, as provided by the Laws of Ukraine “On Education” and “On Professional Higher Education”. But that doesn’t happen. Ukrkoopspilka has not received a response to the repeated appeals of the Board of the Ukrkoopspilka to the President of Ukraine, the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Finance, the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Science and Education and the Committee on the Budget on the direction of educational subventions from the State Budget of Ukraine to cooperative colleges to ensure that their students get a complete general secondary education. And this funding was supposed to start in 2019!

In this regard, we received a response from our relevant ministry in April that cooperative colleges are included in the budget proposal for 2021. But when the budget was submitted to the Ministry of Finance, this item was abolished again. Currently, the Board of Ukrkoopspilka has also appealed to the Education Ombudsman of Ukraine to comply with the law and protect the rights of students. We are waiting for an answer. We hope it will protect our students. Imagine if this point of the law worked, the rates of admission to cooperative colleges would be even better. And as it is, parents have to pay for two years of college tuition, even though you can go to school for free. In other words, the state selectively finances a full general secondary education.

But we will not leave this problem and will continue knocking on all doors.

– Lidia Gerasymivna, you’ve always been a very reliable link between cooperative educational institutions and state, government agencies, always defended the interests of our educational institutions. What are your current relations with the Ministry of Education and Science, where ministers have changed so often lately, are you invited to cooperate?

– Yes, I’m working in a working group created by the State Service of Education Quality of Ukraine to develop drafts of the Procedure for institutional audit of professional educational institutions before higher education and the Regulations on accreditation of educational and professional programs in which the training of applicants for professional pre-higher education.

Also, based on the results of the competitive examinations, representatives of Vinnytsia, Novomoskovsk, Kirovohrad, Lviv, Poltava, Ternopil, Kharkiv, Kherson, Khmelnytsky and Chernihiv colleges were elected to the Scientific and Methodological Commissions (subcommissions) of the Pre-Higher Education Sector of the Scientific and Methodological Council of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine

Moreover, teachers of cooperative colleges were elected to the governing bodies of the subcommittees Accounting and Taxation, Finance, Banking and Insurance, Management, Entrepreneurship, Trade and Exchange Activities, Hospitality and Tourism.

We will have interesting, complex and very responsible work on the draft standards of professional higher education, which is entrusted to the representatives of cooperative educational institutions. After all, we have extensive experience and have been developers of standards for several generations. NMC “Ukooposvita” is a developer of current standards in a number of specialties – commodity science and commercial activities, accounting and taxation, which trains specialists in all colleges and technical schools of Ukraine. Therefore, it is logical that representatives of cooperative education are involved in developing new generation standards based on a competency-based approach to this component of education at the state level. Of course, it will be a team work and representatives of other educational institutions will work on the development of projects, experts from relevant fields, employers, etc. will be involved for expertise.

And that’s a fact that teachers of cooperative educational institutions have a significant impact on the educational process in the country, our ideas are listened to, they are adopted at the nationwide educational level.

The discussion was led by Oksana GUTSUL.

A full transcript of the interview was published in the newspaper «Visti…» No.45 of November 5, 2020.