Education is a precondition for a free society
On Tuesday, October 30th, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom in Ukraine and Belarus organized a discussion evening about the educational reform in Ukraine. The event was, together with 70 other events, part of the German Weeks in Ukraine 2018. As is the case with most other reforms in Ukraine, the educational reform is a hot topic of discussion, with some controversy leading to fierce debates. This discussion evening in Kyiv was no different, with the participants engaging in a fruitful discussion about a “European” way of educating children, about shaping a society and about bullying amongst students.
After an introduction by FNF’s project-leader in Ukraine Beate Apelt and by Head of the culture department of the German Embassy to Ukraine Andrea Stohr, a panel discussion was held. The participants to the discussion were German MP for the FDP Bettina Stark-Watzinger, consultant for the Minister of Education in Ukraine and co-founder of the NGO’s “Parental Control” and “Smart Education” Oksana Makarenko, Director of the “Grand” Lyceum Volodymyr Spivakovski and expert in public service Oleksandr Sych. The discussion was skillfully moderated by Halyna Tytysh, leader of NGO “Smart Education” and former editor of “Ukrainska Pravda. Zhyttia.”
Although the educational reform has some controversial elements, Oksana Makarenko stressed that 75.8% of Ukrainians support the reform, which is very important. Volodymyr Spivakoski noted that even the best person can turn into a criminal, and underlined the importance of education for preventing such developments. Bettina Stark-Watzinger described how education used to be about just providing information to children, but in today’s society with such an abundance of information available, education should be about providing a compass to students. When talking about modern teachers, Oleksandr Sych stated that a teacher should not only be a teacher, but also a coach, a trainer and a mentor to students.
The discussion once again confirmed the importance of education, especially in a country such as Ukraine where fake news and propaganda can be extremely dangerous. After the panel discussion, the participants continued the debate during dinner, which was also a great opportunity for networking.
Without education, there can be no free society.