The war conflict in Donbass has also affected the education system. Some students were forced to become migrants and to resume their studies in the new place of residence. Others, as if they failed their exams, are hoping to “slip” into adulthood with a so-called “diploma” from an illegal organization called DPR. There has also been a split between academics. The “Donetsk Dialog” journalists from the Donbas Public TV have looked into what has happened to the education system in the occupied region and how the relocated Donbass higher education institutions are doing in the peaceful territory.
Karina Garbuzenko, a lecturer of the Donetsk National Technical University (DonNTU) is grieving over her home city. In her memories, Donetsk will always stay beautiful and flourishing, up until July 2014. Everything that had happened then seemed surreal to her. Why did the world suddenly collapse and the respectable people she had known for so long became strangers, to say the least? She couldn’t imagine in her worst nightmare that the security officer of their university was aiming at the position of a “deputy secretary” in the so-called “DPR”. It was within the walls of her own university where Karina first saw the military people who were making outright calls to students encouraging them to enrol for militia.
“It was the exam week, and naturally the “Donbass People’s Militia” – the jolly stinking men in military clothes holding bats – were using dubious rhetoric to call for the students to support the armed struggle for the “Donetsk People’s Republic,” – Karina says.
The teacher didn’t think it was reasonable to rescue the university under such circumstances. Having completed that academic year in order to give the students an opportunity to obtain their diplomas, Karina abandoned here home harbor.
To give you another example, the core of the teaching staff at the Donetsk National Academy of Civil Engineering and Architecture (DonNASA) saw a chance to save their alma mater by re-establishing it in the territory controlled by Ukraine. Following the order by the relevant ministry, the institution was relocated from Makeyevka to Kramatorsk, together with the teaching personnel of 50 people and 360 students.
Both teachers and students call what was left of the academy in Makeyevka nothing more than clones. Overall, 10 higher education institutions were evacuated from the occupied territory. Those include universities, institutes and academies. However, moving institutions of the first and second levels of accreditations, i.e. training schools and colleges, turned out to be a mission impossible to accomplısh.
“We have 82 of such education institutions in the region, but only one was evacuated. There are 36 technical schools operating in the Ukraine-controlled territory. Therefore, around 50 schools were left behind in the occupied territory," – says Valentin Tarasov, Head of the Donetsk Region Science and Higher Education Department, commenting on the schools’ destinies. The official explains that re-registering such education institutions is associated with a number of challenges because they don’t have their academic units in the peaceful Ukrainian territory. Besides, another obstacle to the relocation is the fact that those schools are being attended by minors.
However, many graduates holding “diplomas” issued by “DPR” and “LPR” have already sensed the deception. Such diploma will not qualify for getting a legitimate job. Besides, the students who did decide to follow their institution to a new place after all, lost a whole year of their studies, together with their right to the scholarship (if any).
“The Ministry of Education issued a letter on September 2, in which it granted the chancellors of higher education institutions a right to accept students wishing to reinstate their status in the evacuated institutions, but only back to the year they were in before the territory had been occupied. This should not be influenced by such factors as the actual year, length of employment or the duration of the education gap,” – says Valentin Tarasov, Head of the Donetsk Region Science and Higher Education Department.
The teacher who had left Donetsk told us about the “education standards” maintained by “DPR”. “The delusion is on. Many boys and girls are allowed to commence their studies without having passed any exams, without the External Independent Evaluation (EIE). I even know some cases when students from Zaporozhye or Kharkov regions were taking advantage of this as a way to counteract their low EIE marks, by arriving in Donetsk to apply to the local institutions in the hope to get a Russian diploma," – says Karina Garbuzenko.
Many still don’t want to admit their mistakes and instead choose to keep looking for the guilty party, to the point of sacrificing the education of their children who proceed obtaining false papers from the pseudo-republic. The only remaining hope is for the common sense to finally prevail.
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