KYIV – For the last years active discussions of the higher education reform in Ukraine takes place. Meanwhile, the decisions on the future of the educational sector shall not be made without students’ opinion inclusion, as they have always been a driving force of positive changes in societies. Unfortunately, in Ukraine students freedom of expression and their right to participation in decision-making on higher education grossly violated, because of the systematic pressure from higher educational institutions administrations and the representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine (hereinafter – the Ministry).
Last month, representatives of higher educational institutions students’ unions in Kyiv, who jointly form Kyiv Students Council, became the object of pressure aimed at imposing position of Ministry on candidate for coordinator of the representative students’ body of the capital – Kyiv Student Council. Students’ representatives, before the elections of Kyiv Student Council coordinator, have been called to the administrations of their higher educational institutions, and so-called “educational talks” were conducted for them, which was a popular threatening technique intimidated in the Soviet Union. There are cases of direct threats of students expulsions from higher education, if they disobey position of the Ministry regarding nominations coordinator.
Unfortunately, actions to influence students’ opinion are talking place all over the country. There is a spread of threatening students identified aimed at creation of visibility of students support to the Ministerial proposals of higher education reform.
This practice grossly violates national legislation, international human rights standards and principles of the European Higher Education Area, which Ukraine is a member of. According to the international agreement of Ukraine, government role shall be in support of students’ movement development and inclusion of the interests of all the stakeholders, rather than these interests control.
Ukraine, being a country integrating into the united Europe shall put democratic principles in practice, and support development of educational institutions autonomy, as free and democratic school only is capable of supporting development of free and democratic citizen.
We, the undersigned, call upon the President of Ukraine to take actions aimed at stopping pressure on students’ and students’ unions, carries out by the representatives of the Ministry and administration of higher educational institutions. Therefore, attempts to control students’ organizations, such as Kyiv Students Council, and students’ opinion as a whole, have to be stopped. Furthermore, there shall be no further treats of students’ coming from higher educational institutions administration, and “educational talk” technique shall not be used in the democratic society, and remain on the pages of the history of Soviet Union only.