Ukraine must abandon the education of children in boarding schools


On December 20 in the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) was held the first meeting within the project “Ukraine without boarding establishments”. Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Children's Rights Mykola Kuleba and the Chief of Social Programs of ISER Marianna Onufryk presented to journalists a view of the reform for de-institutionalisation the system of education and answered to their questions.

With this meeting, ISER opens a series of events to support and clarification extremely important concepts and plans of this reform.

Since the education of children in orphanages is a very sensitive social issue and can be used in a populist and political manipulations, a key objective of the project is to establish effective communication between all participants of the reform – public authorities, parents and society as a whole.

We started with the formulation of the problem.

HOW MANY REAL ORPHANS IN UKRAINE?

Among pupils of boarding schools, true orphans with no parents and other family members are no more than 8,5 thousand.

HAS THE BOARDING EDUCATION SYSTEM BENEFITS?

NO, it hasn’t! According to studies, three months of staying a child in a boarding school delays its development for a month. More than 50% of boarding students living there for more than 3 years.

DE-INSTITUTIONALISATION MEANS COMPLETE CLOSING OF BOARDING ESTABLISHMENTS?

YES, it is! But this process should take place gradually. Because, to completely abandon the boarding establishments and bring back children to the families, the state must ensure a proper support to families and the necessary social services for them at the community level. According to Mykola Kuleba, poverty and development features of a child, including disability, are the main reasons for which parents are forced to abandon children. And Marianna Onufryk said that the place of residence of the child must be provided with the basic package of services, which should include social services (early intervention, day care, supported accommodation), quality medical services and inclusive education.

WHETHER THE STATE HAS ENOUGH MONEY FOR THIS REFORM?

YES, it has! In the case, if the state will change its priorities in funding. Each year, Ukraine increases funding of boarding schools, while only 15% of the money spending on children’s needs, the rest of financing covers the maintenance of buildings and salaries of staff. As a result, the budget actually is only enough to feed children. It means that a child gets around 27 UAH per day, of which: 23 UAH spending on food, 3 UAH – on clothes, and only 1 hryvnia per day – for treatment.

ON WHAT WILL BE SPEND BUDGED FUNDS IN THE CASE OF REFUSAL TO BOARDING SCHOOLS?

De-institutionalization is not about closing the boarding schools, but to support the family, the family-oriented policy in the state. So, abandoning the boarding forms of education, the government will be able to direct the adequate funding to support the family, creating the necessary social services at the state level, ensuring the needs of inclusive education and more.

The strategy of de-institutionalization of childcare is developed. It is expected that Petro Poroshenko President will approve it soon by his Presidential Decree.

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