The Deputy Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Olena Kondratiuk is on a working visit to Odesa, where she visited the I. Mechnikov Odesa National University.

During her visit to the university, Olena Kondratiuk met with the rector of the university, Viacheslav Truba, who told her about the university’s life and work in the conditions of war.

“This is one of the oldest and most powerful educational centres in the south of Ukraine. Amid the full-scale invasion of russia, 7,000 students study here in a mixed format and 638 teachers work here,” the Vice Speaker said.

During the meeting, the rector of the university, Viacheslav Truba, said that despite all the difficulties, the educational process at the institution continues, although there is a general drop in the level of knowledge of applicants after high school. The level of many school leavers was first negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and then by war. Therefore, teachers have to fill in the gaps in schooling in the first year.

During the conversation, it was also discussed that applicants are increasingly losing interest in such specialities as geology, physics, and chemistry. Another serious challenge for all universities is preparing for the heating season and getting through the winter period.

The parties also touched upon the prospects of public-private partnerships and funding university projects by alumni communities, which is a common practice in Western education but not yet so common in Ukraine.

The interlocutors also discussed the safety of the educational process, students, and teachers. Olena Kondratiuk got acquainted with the shelters on the territory of the institution, which meet the necessary standards, in particular, have water, ventilation and Wi-Fi, and are equipped with first aid kits, fire extinguishers, and tools. All premises have a mandatory number of exits.

“Absolutely all higher education institutions and schools in Ukraine should be equipped with shelters, as it is, for example, in Israel. This is our new reality and a requirement for everyday life and education,” the Vice Speaker stressed.

At the same time, she noted that, unfortunately, educational institutions in Ukraine are only 67.8% provided with shelters, so work on the arrangement and construction of new shelters should be carried out constantly. In particular, she said that UAH 1.5 billion had been allocated for this purpose in 2023. And the draft State Budget for 2024 presented by the Government already provides for UAH 2.5 billion for shelters.

“We must ultimately reach 100% coverage of shelters among schools, universities and preschools. This is a matter of saving lives and providing children and young people with safe and continuous education in Ukraine,” emphasised Olena Kondratiuk.

The Deputy Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine thanked the university staff for continuing to work and provide quality educational services in the unbreakable Odesa despite the constant missile attacks.

“Thank you for this enormous and crucial work! Education in times of war should be a priority. Having won the war, we must also win a peaceful and successful future for the country, and without educated and competitive young people, this is almost impossible,” said Olena Kondratiuk.

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