Victoria Zolina, an educator with almost 20 years of experience, plans to open the first private school in the town of Rubizhne, Luhansk Oblast. For that purpose, she took a course at the UN Crowdfunding Academy and launched a fund-raising campaign on Spilnokosht (a crowdfunding platform).

The future school sees its main value to respect schoolchildren, while also ensuring that learning brings pleasure rather than suffering.

“Our school will support and nurture kids’ natural thirst for knowledge, enabling each student to enjoy the learning process,” Zolina said. “Our school will be informal, socially inclusive and considerate of others’ needs. We’ll have interesting and open-minded teachers. Our teachers will not only be able to give good lessons, but will also be interesting to talk to after classes. Instead of a competitive environment our school will have a well-balanced motivation system.”  

This school will also have outdoor lessons in all seasons, lots of practical tasks, a sensitive attitude to any needs a child may have, and most importantly, an individual study plan and learning tempo for each child. In the morning, students will receive a workbook with all the tasks they have to do during that day, and will be allowed to do the tasks at their own pace throughout that day. After that, together with a teacher or assistant, they will analyse (rather than checking) their work, and make a plan for the next day.

This school year, Zolina and her team plan to open a pilot class for 10 second-year students.

“Why for second-year students rather than for first-year ones?” Zolina asked. “Because the parents of first-year students still have rather high expectations and hopes that state schools will change. The parents of second-year students already know what it’s like to have your children study at a state school, and their education needs and requirements are more clearly shaped and better informed. They know the current state of things and what they want to see it changed. If the project is successful, next year we’ll open a class for first-year students and another class for second-year students.”

Private schools account for less than 2% of all schools in Ukraine. All of the private schools are either located in large cities or in areas close to such cities, and usually only well-off families can afford to send their children to them. The initiators of the first private school in Rubizhne want to break this stereotype.

“Private schools have a reputation for providing more high-quality education than most state schools,” Zolina said. “They skillfully maintain children’s interest in learning by applying an individual approach to every child. In contrast to traditional schools, children are not bored there. What is more, a private school is a business. That’s why its administration is constantly looking for ways to improve the quality of the services it offers.”

Moreover, Zolina’s school will be a social business.

“The social component will be the low tuition fees – about UAH 2,500 per month,” Zolina said. “These are the smallest tuition fees charged by any private school in Ukraine. The school also plans to introduce another social component – a system of charity points. Parents who are unable to pay the entire amount of fees can provide various services (do repairs, produce learning materials, works as teaching assistants, guard the premises, and so on). Such work will be equivalent to financial contributions.”

The project initiators believe that positive changes in society require new approaches to education, and the expansion of private schools across Ukraine.

“We now have the opportunity to lay the groundwork for the training of new leaders in eastern Ukraine: intelligent, honest, educated, and eco-patriotic people. If these words speak to you, join our project,” urge the initiators.

To support the project, visit the following link: https://biggggidea.com/project/vidkrittya-privatno-pochatkovo-shkoli-u-misti-rubizhne/

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