February 5, 2005
Орест Попович та Василь Махно виступили із вступним словом і представили доповідачку.
|Орест Попович||Василь Махно|
Олена Джиджора, займається питаннями реформування системи університетської освіти в Україні.
Reform of university education in Ukraine is addressed at Shevchenko Society
New York. The Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) in Lviv stands in the forefront of efforts to reform higher education in post-Soviet Ukraine according to Western standards. This was the gist of the talk by Olena Dzhedzhora, the Dean of Humanities Faculty at UCU, presented at the Shevchenko Scientific Society (NTSh) headquarters here on February 5.
The program was opened by NTSh vice-president Dr. Orest Popovych and emceed by Prof. Vasyl Makhno, who introduced the speaker as a current Ful-bright Fellow at Columbia University.
Dean Dzhedzhora described the existing educational system in Ukraine as a rigid hierarchical pyramid, topped by the Ministry of Education, in which any professed reforms are only formal and declarative in nature. Ukrainian institutions of higher learning must conform to a curriculum prescribed by the Ministry or else risk losing their accreditation.
Those institutions which truly wish to modernize their curricula must do so with the aid of alternative new programs, which are added on to the instructional materials mandated by the Ministry of Education, said the speaker. In addition to UCU, she mentioned the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, the Lviv Na-tional University and the Donetsk University of Humanities among those which are now pursuing educational reform through alternative programs.
The present system of higher education in Ukraine produces professionals, but not well-educated people, continued Dean Dzhedzhora. Because many of the professional jobs previously guaranteed to graduates under the Soviet system have dried up, unemployment for college graduates is high. To remedy this, Ukraine’s universities must go beyond professional education. They must help their students become -more flexible, able to find, check and apply new information, learn to think critically, expand their horizons.
In the opinion of Dean Dzhedzhora, educational reform should start with the humanities, which she feels provide the foundation for other disciplines. General education, such as represented by the “core curriculum” required at Columbia University (and many other U.S. universities — O. P.), is indispensable for the formation of an educated college graduate, said the speaker. In view of this, UCU has added an extra “preparatory” year to its curriculum. In that year, students take courses in the History of European Civilization, History of Literature, History of the Catholic Church, Latin and English languages as well as Computer Science. These students take English 5 days a week. They are also instructed in the methodology of teaching, scholarly research and writing.
Another aspect of modernization at UCU is the change from the lecture format to seminars for small groups of students in specialized advanced subjects. The speaker noted that UCU comprises not only a School of Divinity, but also a Department of Humanities, which prepares students, the majority of them women, for jobs in lay professions.
UCU has been moving towards Western educational standards also by participating in an inter-institutional teaching program with five Polish universities, and by adopting the system of Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.
Finally, UCU students gain practical experience by working in the local news media, the Internet, hospitals, nursing homes, libraries, archives, summer camps and other outside jobs. Students are encouraged to participate in administrative tasks and scholarly conferences.
According to Dean Dzhedzhora, positive effects of the educational reforms carried out so far could be seen already, as it was the students from reform-minded universities who formed the avant-garde of the recent “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine. She believes that the innovative teaching methods and the alternative curricula pioneered by UCU could become a model for the reform of higher education in Ukraine in general, and hopes some day to convince Ukraine’s Ministry of Education to adopt them as the standard requirements for all Ukrainian universities.
“America” — Philadelphia, PA, Saturday, February 19, 2005 (No. 8)