Questions from the village of Serebryanka to politicians on the Pechersk Hills in Kyiv
Iryna Zhdanova, Founder of the NGO “Open Policy Foundation” and Klym Churyumov Scientific Lyceum, Ph.D. in History
Before the meeting of the board at the Ministry of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories (MTOT), which takes place today, on March 26, I would like to ask two questions to its participants. These questions are not just mine. This is a collective result of a five-day brainstorming session with representatives of the “Donbas-Ukraine” and “Crimea-Ukraine” Education Centers, held in the remote village of Serebryanka on the border between Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
The first question
As of March, 350 entrants from the temporarily occupied territories, who study in Ukrainian schools and are ready to come to take the Independent External Evaluation (IEE), have been registered only in the Donetsk region. But entrance/exit checkpoints (EECP) are closed. It is unlikely that the militants will open them for the period of the Admission campaign-2021. Last year, they carried out this procedure with special cynicism: they opened EECP for the IEE examination in Mathematics but did not do it for the examination in the Ukrainian Language. I saw the tears of a teacher from Mariupol, who told about it at training in Serebryanka, where I am now with representatives of the “Donbas-Ukraine” and “Crimea-Ukraine” Education Centers, schools, colleges, vocational schools that teach students and young people from temporary occupied territories (TOT).
Returning to this question, I will add arguments to explain why this is important. The vast majority of TOT entrants go to Ukrainian educational institutions through the Russian Federation, violating the rules of crossing the state border. The transfer costs 7,000 hryvnias plus a 1,700 hryvnia fine. Yes, I understand that this is an illegal border crossing and there should be a fine. But at the same time, the question is how else can they enter Ukraine now? Using a hang-glider from one waste heap to another? ...
What are the possible solutions?
The first one that is actively lobbied by some public organizations is the remote submission of documents and distance learning in Ukrainian universities (I would add: and the provision of Wi-Fi coverage in the trenches of militants of the so-called “D/LPR”) ... Why not? The state budget has 130 million hryvnias. Some international organizations would support this initiative. And here there are some questions, which, of course, MTOT may not respond today, but they will be asked harder soon.
What is the purpose of ensuring access to education in the occupied territories? Is it reintegration? Then how will Ukraine today pursue a policy of reintegration there, in the temporarily occupied territories? With whom? With those Ukrainians who, even after a small step in this direction, may find themselves in the basements of MGB? HOW to implement measures of national-patriotic education and others, laid down in the recently adopted national strategy of youth policy? Do you really believe that these measures can be carried out remotely for the youth of Donetsk, who see today (just at the time when the board is taking place) a Russian tank in the yard of the house? When their parents see how equipment are being taken from factories! Do you really believe that distance learning can work for those who have been hearing propaganda against Ukraine for seven years? In my opinion, the best argument is employment, high-quality modern education, and a renovated dormitory, as well as visa-free travel and the possibility of academic mobility. It is a drive to live without a curfew, without a tank in the yard, and thoughts about basements. Therefore, I am convinced that young people should study HERE - in a free territory.
How will you ensure national security in the remote submission of documents? I have some thoughts, but not for the blog.
The second question
How and when do you plan to launch preparatory courses for young people from TOT? Where is the road map? Where is a resolution on the use of state budget funds for preparatory courses and reintegration of young people from TOT? And this is 130 million hryvnias in the budget of the MTOT. What are the criteria for organizations that will participate in the open tender? To be honest, I refuse even to think that you will do it without a tender. I wonder what the criteria are. Further. What is the algorithm for starting preparatory courses? I would like to note straight away that most of the answers to these questions have already been worked out by the NGO “Open Policy Foundation” here, in the village of Serebryanka, on the border between Donetsk and Luhansk regions, together with the Ministry of Education and Science and participants of the training “Promotion and organization of preparatory courses”. I’d like to know the opinion of the board’s organizers because it is MTOT which is now responsible for the preparatory courses.
And now about the proposals that can be implemented very quickly before the opening of the “Donbas-Ukraine” and “Crimea-Ukraine” Education Centers.
1. To make amendments in regulations that would allow entrants from TOT not to pay a fine of 1700 hryvnias for illegal border crossing as EXCEPTION, as a compensatory tool to facilitate entry into Ukraine, because there is no other way.
2. To put the issue of reimbursement of funds for the transfer in the resolution on the use of funds for preparatory courses. This norm has been repeatedly voiced by the NGO “Open Policy Foundation” in working groups and it is recorded in the minutes.
3. To develop a transparent procedure and organize the launch of preparatory courses using a “positive cardiogram”. It is time to ignore and bully those who have secured the successful admission of 8,225 entrants from TOT since the beginning of the war. I support an open policy and a constructive position with clear indicators. One of them is a meeting with stakeholders and coordinated interagency actions with analysis of all risks and ways to minimize them.
P.S. While the issues are being clarified, the Educational Centers, together with public organizations and business partners, have already started preparatory courses with more than 70 registered participants. Fifty-eight of them participate in the “Boost and Enter” courses, which is conducted by Donetsk National Technical University and Luhansk Taras Shevchenko National University together with the NGO “Open Policy Foundation” and Churyumov Scientific Lyceum. They are implemented without any state or donor funding.