22 September 2023
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What issues shall never be mentioned when talking about education. Interview with expert

Serhii Diatlenko, education expert of the U-LEAD with Europe Programme, is speaking out on three most rankling issues for education professionals: salaries and workload, closure of small schools and education quality assessment.

Author: Dmytro Syniak 


The “Decentralisation” portal continues its interview with Serhii Diatlenko. The first part of the interview is available here. With the assistance of our readers, we tried to ask him the most critical questions concerning the education reform and decentralisation in the field of education. We decided to start with the economy, which is the most painful one.


1. Sacred thing: money


Due to the reform, the workload for teachers is expected to rise – they will have to deliver more for the same money…

- I think, in this case it is not quite correct to talk about money only. We should also remember the benefits teachers have in their job like long vacations or lower weekly hours… When talking about the balance work-salary, I would like to mention the following. When the Ministry of Finance sent a letter in the summer this year proposing to increase the working hours for teachers from 18 to 20 hours per week, all teachers said clearly that it was not possible. However, if we are to change our work approach under the current education reform, it means that the workload for teachers will double instead of the said extra two hours per week. Teachers, of course, do not like it either. They do not want to work more. At the same time, they do not say it directly and look for reasons to criticize the reform instead: they say that the education reform is not perfect, that teaching approaches are wrong and will not deliver any results etc.

However, will teachers be working in line with the new requirements?

Well, the modern requirements imply that teachers cannot rely on many competences that they have acquired in the years of their school career. Instead, they must prepare themselves for each new lesson from the scratch. Moreover, it is actually the new approach to the teaching process that demands from teachers continuous preparation for each lesson with their old teaching manuals left aside. However, many teachers still want to acquire a kind of “basic competence” to use for the next 20 years. This is wrong.

Teachers oppose the reform, because most of them are not willing to work in a new way, to change themselves, to make efforts, to search for new content etc. However, the world is constantly changing, and these changes are getting more and more overwhelming.

This is what a female teacher writes in her letter: “First, we will have to close village schools to save costs. The next step of the government will be to tackle the teachers. For instance, our workload will increase, division into groups for foreign language lessons will be abolished, 20% of the “prestige” bonus will be cut, and a new legislation will be enacted forcing local councils somehow to make additional payments to teachers amounting 5% to 30% of the basic salary. I am sure that nobody will pay us these 30% on top. This is our problem. We can put down all their “good intentions” to cost-saving…”

- No, cost-saving has nothing to do with this! We should rather talk about effective, targeted and efficient spending. The result of it shall be high-quality education services for each child. As far as these 30% on top of the basic salary are concerned, I can say from my experience that they are paid indeed. This is even paid by hromadas whose education subsidy is not sufficient. Otherwise, hromadas will be facing difficulties keeping their most valuable asset: quality personnel.



The full version is available in Ukrainian – please click HERE


Diatlenko education education management


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