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Education gives only a chance, not guarantee of employment

20 November, 00:00

On November 17 1.2 million Ukrainian students, in anticipation of their winter exams, observed for the second time their own professional holiday. Although Minister for Education and Science Vasyl Kremen, addressing Verkhovna Rada on the Day of Government question time, noted that about a third of Ukraine’s unemployed are young people. International Student Day can be rightly called a professional holiday in this country. In any case, this is what professors keep telling their students at lectures. “You so far have only one workplace: at an institution of higher education,” they say. They are right in a way: indeed, students have to work within the walls of their alma mater. But this is often an unrewarding job. You will agree it is really not so easy to listen to and conduct theoretical debates with your peers at seminars, often placing grades before knowledge, and thus earn 30-39 hryvnias a month. Of course, gaining higher education (first of all, knowledge, not a degree) is a right thing to do. However, in the course of teaching, national educators are often unable (or unwilling) to rely on their students and allow them to find their own bearings in the world of knowledge. Instead, what they usually offer today is a certain curriculum of rather impractical subjects. For it is a totally different thing when students “grind away” on theoretical sciences and when they are offered to master obsolete or obsolescent equipment, as is the case, for example, in technical colleges. More over, many have to pay for this kind of “fundamental” education.

Incidentally, about practice: the impression is that the latter is very far from theory in our life. It is in fact next to impossible to put into practice the useful ideas teachers have given to their “pupils.” When students wish to practically apply their knowledge, they encounter a number of objective obstacles.

First, under Ukrainian law, students are not eligible for employment. They cannot be officially registered at job centers because the state pays them, according to their status, a “fixed rate of pay” insufficient even for commuting to the “temple of knowledge” for a month. But this is not the point. It is quite clear that a chronically deficit ridden budget cannot disburse decent scholarships.

Far worse, students often encounter an opinion, popular among teachers, that employment and studies are incompatible. The highbrow academics are very little concerned about what graduates will do after graduation. The point is that the present-day labor market regards lack of work experience in certain specialties gained at a college or university as a proof of invalidity. Yet, with exams coming, students have to one way or another take account of the teacher’s opinion.

The result is that school-graduates’ anticipation of meeting interesting people, fresh ideas, enthusiasm, optimism, and knowledge, often evaporates as early as in the second or third year of study. Obviously, this disappointment is timed with the discovery of the fact that university is only the beginning of real life.

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