Photo courtesy Alisa Pirogova

SVIATOHIRSK, Donetsk Oblast – Activists in Sviatohirsk have launched a camp for Innovative Educators, where schoolchildren, parents and teachers will share their ideas about how to take contemporary education in Ukraine to a new level.

The camp will take place on August 16-18 in Sviatohirsk. The participation fee varies from UAH 1,500 to UAH 2,800, which includes accommodation and meals. Attendees will be able to choose where to stay: in tents or a room at a hotel in Sviatohirsk.

This year the camp will cover the following topics: alternative education (homeschooling, unschooling, etc), the International Democratic Education Network, the role of theatre in the education process, the psychological health of children, and outdoor activities for kids.

The camp was set up by the Education Experiment organization – a group of parent activists who are already improving the educational process of their children by creating mini-schools, influencing the work of parents’ committees, and organizing remote teaching.

The activists have raised UAH 20,000 funds for the educational camp via Spilnokosht (a crowdfunding platform) to cover participation fees for teachers and their family members from all over Ukraine, with a focus on rural and remote areas. Entrepreneurs Anastasiia and Vitalii Shliakhov launched the fundraising campaign after doing a course at the UN Crowdfunding Academy.

“The number of families who are dissatisfied with the traditional school education and who seek alternative education models for their children is rising every year,” Anastasiia said. “We’re creating a platform for sharing experience, because we’re seeking to develop a community of those who want to change the educational system. We believe that such changes can only be initiated by active parents who care about their children’s education.”

This is the fifth such event Education Experiment has organized. Last year, the activists held an international event that attracted 450 people.

“Practice shows that many school teachers work in an informational vacuum,” the organizers said. “Due to a lack of time and insufficient or absent funding, they can’t discover how education is changing at this particular moment. However, we know that there are school teachers who want to develop themselves; they are looking for individual approaches to every child, and we will make sure that they find us.”

The activists also plan to encourage as many school teachers from small towns and villages as possible to take part in the camp event. Ukrainian and foreign education specialists will be speakers.

“I think that until Ukrainian teachers start going abroad to gain experience of other (types of) schools, it will be difficult to introduce any essential changes to the educational system,” said Natalia Zaitseva, the event’s co-organizer. “After all, no matter how many times you hear about it, it’s impossible to understand and to feel the spirit of a humane approach to education without getting first-hand experience of it! However, it seems that now public school teachers can gain that experience in Ukraine at the annual family camp event held by the Educational Experiment community, rather having to find a chance to go abroad.”

Despite the shortcomings of the current education system in Ukraine, the Shliakhovs do see positive changes: teachers are now willing to pay attention to the personal needs of each student.

However, these changes, Anastasiia and Vitalii think, are happening very slowly, for a range of reasons. By organizing such camps, the spouses hope to speed the changes up.

“This is our vision of the future: our society is self-reliant, and our children are happy and fulfilled, and with smiles on their faces,” the Shliakhovs summarized.

More information about the project is available here.

Background information:

Since 2015 about 650 enterprises have been created or developed throughout Ukraine within the UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme, mainly in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. As a result, around 3,300 new jobs have been created. In addition, some 6,600 people were provided with support in the form of free training, consulting and support for exhibition activities.

The UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme is being implemented by four United Nations agencies: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The Programme is supported by eleven international partners: the European Union, the European Investment Bank and the governments of Canada, Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Great Britain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Media inquiries: Yuliia Samus, UNDP Communications Specialist, yuliia.samus@undp.org, +38 097 139 14 75

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