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Solution 08:30 22 Nov 2021

Taking a break from the city, helping children and even getting paid for it: who in Ukraine offers a dream job

Even if you don't have pedagogical education, but have a knack and a dream to become a teacher, they can realize it

What is the problem?

Staff shortages in rural schools and poor student performance

One-third of all students in Ukraine study in rural areas. These children lag behind their peers in the city by an average of two and a half years; such data are provided by the 2018 PISA international assessment of students. In addition, according to the 2019 data of the Ministry of Education and Science, more than 60% of children living in villages and small towns pass the external evaluation on a scale of 1 to 6 on a 12-point scale. There is a significant gap between the academic achievements of students from urban and rural areas in many other countries, but educational inequality in our country is one of the most rooted in Europe.

This difference exists not because rural school students have poorer abilities, but because they have poorer access to quality education. During the pandemic, it only intensified, but there are also positive aspects: they are trying to fight this problem.

Another problem is staff shortages. Alla Yevtiukhova, the principal of Primorsk Secondary School, said that teachers in rural schools were getting older, and even 30 years of experience did not help the situation. On the contrary: it's very difficult for such teachers to adjust:

"Teachers keep themselves within certain limits: they're afraid that children will fail the external examination, will not pass a test, will not keep up with the calendar plan, which they created at the beginning of the school year. All this is the teachers' will," says Alla Yevtiukhova.

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What is the solution?

"Teach for Ukraine" finds a way out

The NGO "Teach for Ukraine" is a partner in the Teach For All global network, which unites more than 60 countries, 20,000 participants, and more than 65,000 graduates of the program. Organizations in the network work to provide education, support, and opportunities for children around the world to shape a better future for themselves and their communities.

Teach for Ukraine works to ensure that every child in Ukraine can realize their potential, regardless of the place of birth or residence. "Teach for Ukraine" attracts young professionals from different fields to teach for 2 years in small towns and villages, where they become role models, open new perspectives in children's lives and contribute to community development. Young and progressive teacher-leaders to some extent help to solve the staffing problem in schools, bring a new spirit of teaching, accelerate the process of raising children. They show the result, working in completely different forms, using new formats of teaching subjects.

Iryna Palamarchuk, a participant in the Teach for Ukraine program, said that the results achieved by young teachers-mentors motivated experienced teachers to change and force them to move away from the Soviet system, which only provides knowledge, but doesn't teach to use it.

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"If a child learns formulas, but doesn't understand why it's useful in life, the subject becomes uninteresting, but our teacher-leader, Iryna, explained the importance of learning English on the example of her travels abroad. And when children didn't understand something in financial literacy lessons, she took them to the bank and showed everything in practice," says Ms. Palamarchuk.

How does it work?

The all-Ukrainian network "Teach for Ukraine" is convinced that everyone can contribute to the creation of a society where they want to live, and Ukraine should become a country where every child has the opportunity to discover their potential, regardless of their place of birth and residence. To achieve this goal, the project attracts ambitious and caring graduates and young professionals in various fields to teach in small towns and villages.

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"Teach for Ukraine" participants are young people who want to change Ukrainian education. Teachers move to the village for 2 years, where they teach one of the school subjects at a local school, organize extracurricular initiatives and important projects for communities. They teach children to dream bolder and believe in themselves, open up subjects and the learning process in a new way, organize clubs, help them enter their dream universities, and show the variety of opportunities around them.

And it's not just teaching in schools: help can be anything. You can implement many extracurricular initiatives: career guidance events, movie clubs, robotics clubs, eco-festivals, and much more. In a pandemic, many program participants became teachers who organized the transition to distance learning in schools, helping other teachers and students.

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Does it really work? 

22-year-old Anastasia went to an unfamiliar place and became a teacher

Anastasia Beliaeiva arranged a meeting with high school students at her school to tell them what the ways are, where to look for opportunities, what to study:

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Anastasia Beliaieva, participant of the program

"When I came, I noticed that the school hadn't changed since I was studying, and I became sad. I came across the Teach for Ukraine program on social media, and I thought I could try to change something," she said.

So Anastasia at the age of 22 got to the town of Teplodar in the Odesa region, where she taught Ukrainian literature in grades 5-6 and 10-11:

"I decided I could try to teach it greatly. For example, we arranged a 'trial' over Lys Mykyta from Painted Fox with fifth-graders. The children were glad that a person who can understand their jokes, knows memes, etc. came to them," Beliaieva assured.

The most difficult thing was loneliness. She went to town by herself, and at some point, she realized it was hard for her to change something inside. So there were moments of despair, but the support of friends and a joint chat with program participants helped.

The woman managed to immediately make friends with the children, although it was not easy. Since she was young, it was challenging for her to keep boundaries. Well, she's joking with your jokes, but she's a teacher. However, she coped with the problem and even organized a movie club for schoolchildren. When Anastasia became a class teacher the following year and offered to lead the club in English, she was supported. The teacher also says that she is proud to have had students who started writing books.

There are twelve fearless people like Anastasia. Young specialists taught in schools during 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. But there are many more schools that want to take part in the program! This year alone, during the summer recruitment, the project received more than 100 applications from schools with a total number of vacant hours: more than 3 thousand!

And it's logical because teachers who come to schools cope with a very difficult and most important task: arousing children's interest in learning! Iryna Pupko, a graduate of "Teach for Ukraine" who taught geography in Kaharlyk, Kyiv region, shared that due to communication, workload sharing, clear instructions and interest in the subject, and the right approach to even the most disinterested students, their interest in the subject grew from 30 up to 99%!

Even more useful solutions!

How to become a project participant for those who want to teach 

  • To become a participant in the project, you don't need to have a pedagogical education; most of the participants of last year's project didn't have it. However, a master's or bachelor's degree is required. For example, a graduate of the Faculty of Applied Mathematics who knows the subject very well, is able to and wants to interest children, can apply to participate in the project. The main thing is motivation, excellent knowledge and interest in your subject, which should be passed on to children.
  • A candidate for a teacher must know one of the school subjects at a level sufficient for teaching.
  • The person is ready to dedicate 5 weeks to the "Teach for Ukraine" institute and move to a small town or village for 2 years.

If you believe that you meet these criteria, you need to fill out a form on the project website. By the way, there should be no difficulties with this, because "Teach for Ukraine" social media publish tips for filling out applications and compiling resumes.

After the first stage – filling in the questionnaire – the future participant will await selection, which consists of two more stages: the selection of participants and most importantly, the Skype interview at the assessment center.

Teach for Ukraine is a development program, so during their entire stay in the program, they promise to help candidates become more professional and qualified. The main thing is to have the desire and be convinced that everyone can realize their potential!

What can you get from the project?

  • Full-fledged paid work and official employment
  • Scholarship that covers housing and other household expenses
  • Opportunity to obtain a free master's degree in pedagogy at the Borys Hrinchenko University
  • Opportunity to implement an initiative for school/community development and develop your leadership potential
  • A community of like-minded people who will always support and help develop
  • Training, exchange of experience, networking in the Teach for All global network (59 countries)

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How can a school become a participant in a project?

The organizers of the project are looking for schools that are ready to experiment and are not afraid to admit "people from the outside." Schools, for their part, must have an open vacancy and the opportunity to provide a teacher's salary.

To become a partner school, you need to fill out a form on the Teach for Ukraine website.

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