President of Ukraine
Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Committee on Education, Science and Innovation
To the Prime Minister of Ukraine
We, the Civil Society Sector Organizations, are deeply concerned with the protection of the rights of victims of the conflict, and appeal to you to finance programs and measures to ensure access to Ukrainian education for children and youth from the temporarily occupied territories for 2021.
In June, the President of Ukraine initiated amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Higher Education”, which provided the possibility to the applicants from the temporarily occupied territories of Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk regions the right for free education with scholarships or preparatory courses to any institution of higher and vocational education in Ukraine lasting up to one year. The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine supported the President’s initiative by 310 votes in favor.
The President of Ukraine and the Parliament have fulfilled their task of shaping the state policy on maintaining ties with young people in the occupied territories and ensuring their access to the Ukrainian educational space. Currently, all responsibility for the implementation of the Law rests on the Government of Ukraine, in particular, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine (MESU).
However, the 2020 introductory campaign showed that in the absence of proper and timely information for entrants and their parents, the positive legislative changes were not implemented properly. That is why, this year, entrants from the occupied territories took only 1/6 of the quota for this category of budget places and mostly joined the very limited list of higher education institutions in which there were already educational centers last year.
If the simplified mechanism of admission of young people from the occupied territories to any higher education institution could be implemented this year, the new norm defined by Article 44 of the Law of Ukraine «On introduction of preparatory courses at universities for children and youth from the temporarily occupied territories» should come into force in year 2021. Such preparatory courses were to become not only the preparation of entrants to study in Ukrainian higher education institutions and programs but also a part of their adaptation to life outside of the propaganda, misinformation and pressure of the occupation, which in the same time will become the real implementation of the safe reintegration policy from the January 2021. Preparatory courses could become a real tool for access to education for children and youth from the occupied territories, who have not studied the history of Ukraine, Ukrainian language and literature for 7 years as well as they fear of being misperceived by students from other regions of Ukraine.
However, when preparing budget requests (according to the Ministry of Education of Ukraine website) for the formation of the draft budget for 2021, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine does not provide funding for preparatory courses (State Budget of Ukraine: Program 2201250 “Professional development of teachers and researchers in food, processing industry and agro-industrial complex, professional development of medical and pharmaceutical personnel”). There is a complete lack of funding and support for the organization of an information campaign and for the Government hotline for entrants to educational institutions (State Budget of Ukraine: Program 2201260 “National measures in the field of education”).
Back in February 2020, in the Budget Declaration for 2020-2022, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine provided 60.5 million for the financing of preparatory courses, hotlines and information campaigns, which was 0.16% of the total year budget of the Ministry.
However, as of today, these programs of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine have been reduced completely – to 0 UAH. In practice, this means that the leadership of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine is deliberately sabotaging the implementation of the current Law of Ukraine “On Higher Education”, depriving children from the occupied territories the opportunity to prepare for education and enter higher and vocational education institutions in Ukrainian-controlled territory.
The complete refusal of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine to comply with the law and implement the policy initiated by the President of Ukraine and Parliament towards children and youth from the occupied territories will lead to their further integration into the cultural and educational space of the Russian Federation. The deliberate refusal to inform the inhabitants of the Temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and their children about these opportunities provided by Ukraine is short-sighted and, as a result, criminal, which harms the national processes of reintegration and deoccupation.
We, the Civil Society Organizations, are concerned with the protection of rights of the victims of conflict, and are forced to appeal to the President of Ukraine, the parliamentary committee and the Prime Minister in connection with the refusal of the MESU representatives to have a dialogue with the NGOs. We ask you, when finalizing the Draft Law on the State Budget of Ukraine for 2021, to take into account the need to finance preparatory courses for entrants from the temporarily occupied territories to comply with current legislation and support other measures for reintegration of youth from TOT.
We hope that the laws initiated by the President of Ukraine and supported by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine will not remain just words on paper or speeches from the tribune, but will be supported by appropriate actions and bring on all executive bodies, including the Ministry of Education and Science.
November 09, 2020
Vostok SOS Charitable Foundation
ZMINA Human Rights Center
“Almenda” Civic Education Center
Crimean Human Rights Group (CHRG)
NGO “Civil holding “GROUP OF INFLUENCE”
Charity Foundation Stabilization Support Services in Ukraine
Right to Protection Charitable Foundation
Educational Human Rights House Chernihiv
Municipal Center for Humanistic Technologies “AHALAR”
Human Rights Vector NGO
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Human Rights House Crimea
Regional Center for Human Rights
Kharkiv Institute for Social Research