The 2017 Law on Education defines inclusive education as ‘a system of educational services guaranteed by the State which is based on the principle of non-discrimination, human diversities, effective involvement and engagement of all participants of the education process’ (Art.1.12), a definition that is reiterated in the amended clause of the 1999 General Secondary Education Act (Art. 16.2).
Special education needs
According to the 2017 Law on Education, persons with special education needs are those in need of additional permanent or temporary support in order to fulfil their right to education (Art. 1.20). Decree No. 952 of 2018 establishes that persons who completed general secondary education in a language other than a Slavic one and/or belong to an indigenous group are included in the category of people with special education needs and thus require external independent assessment.
The 2017 Law on Education establishes that education provision for persons with special education needs occurs:
- In special institutions, according to the state authorities’ procedures (Art. 19.7)
- In inclusive and/or special groups and classes in regular schools, if needed (Art. 20.1)
- In inclusive resource centres providing them with education and psychological and pedagogical support and follow-up based on an individual development programme (Art. 20.5).
Inclusive and/or special groups are also established for preschool education and training of children with special needs, based on the parents’ or guardians’ consent, as specified in the 2001 Preschool Education Act, amended in 2019 (Art. 12). For the provision of general secondary education, distance learning and special and/or inclusive classes may be set up to meet diverse needs (General Secondary Education Act, Art. 8.3).
As outlined in Regulation No. 617/2018, resource centres to support inclusive education are expected to provide pedagogical and advanced training for employees of organizations working with children with special education needs, to carry out analytical and diagnostic activities, to conduct data analysis and to organize awareness campaigns (Art. 6). Consisting of special education professionals, psychologists, teachers and speech therapists, resource centres provide, among other services, advisory and methodological support concerning training for children with special education needs (Art. 7).
Regional/district and city resource centres to support inclusive education, or urban resource centres in the case of the Kyiv and Sevastopol, are intended to substitute boarding schools, including in united territorial communities. As specified in the 1999 General Secondary Education Act, amended in 2018, boarding schools are expected to be dismantled and the existing network of psycho-medical-pedagogical services reorganized.
In 2017/18, 334 special general schools, called residential care schools, were expected to be transformed into resource centres.
As established in the 1996 Constitution, amended in 2016, everyone has the right to education and to complete compulsory comprehensive general secondary education (Art. 53). The right to high-quality and affordable education and to obtain education throughout life is reiterated in the 2017 Law on Education (Art. 3.1). The latter also contains a non-discrimination provision, ensuring equal access to opportunities regardless of age, sex, race, health status, disability, nationality, ethnic origin, political or religious views, colour, place of residence, language, origin, social or material position, criminal record or other circumstances and characteristics (Art. 3.2).
Article 20 of the Law on Education is dedicated to promoting inclusive education in education institutions by creating inclusive and/or special groups and classes for persons with special education needs. With this purpose, they are expected to be provided with psychological and pedagogic support as well as correctional and developmental services.
Within the reform of secondary education, a learner-centred model has been applied and inclusive education encouraged. As envisioned in the 2016 New Ukrainian School framework, conditions are planned to be created to enable students with special needs to learn with their peers based on individual development programmes, which include correctional and rehabilitation measures and psychological and pedagogical assistance. The Medium-Term Government Priority Action Plan to 2020 intended to double this type of education provision in secondary education.
The Framework for Social Protection of Persons with Disabilities Act, as amended in 2011, contains a non-discrimination provision (Art. 2) and mandates the state to remove obstacles and barriers that inhibit access to education (Art. 4). In this regard, reserved quotas for access to higher education and vocational training have been established by law (Art. 22). As set out in the 2017 Law on Education, persons with special education needs have the right to be educated with their peers, according to their individual needs and capabilities, based on the principles of reasonable adjustment and universal design (Art. 19). The law further specifies that persons with physical, mental or intellectual developmental disorders or sensory impairments are provided with auxiliary aids (Art. 20.3).
According to the revised 2019 Preschool Education Act, all children, including those with special education needs, have the right to preschool education (Art. 2). In the amended General Secondary Education Act, a new provision aims to promote inclusive education in inclusive and/or special groups and classes in accordance with the individual characteristics of each student with special education needs, based on an individual child development programme (Art. 16). In order to realize inclusive education, a person-oriented approach is adopted, supported by a teacher assistant. In the case of children with complex developmental disorders, a child’s assistant is expected to support the learner with parental or guardian authorization.
In 2011, standards on remedial education were developed according to type of disability within the Comprehensive Action Plan for the Development of Education in Ukraine. More recently, within the overall secondary education reform, the 2016 New Ukrainian School framework allows children with special needs to access schools at a different age, to extend the duration of their study at a primary school and to receive supplementary correctional assistance.
As made explicit in the 1996 Constitution, amended in 2016, gender equality is assured by providing women with the same opportunities in areas including education and vocational training (Art. 24). The 2005 Law on Ensuring Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men is entirely dedicated to the promotion of equal rights and opportunities in the education sphere in terms of access, assessment, grants and loan benefits (Art. 21). The 2013 Law on Principles of Prevention and Combating Discrimination in Ukraine endorses a general definition of discrimination, promoting the rights and freedoms of individuals discriminated against on the basis of sex, among other characteristics. Along these lines, the 2018–21 State Social Programme on Equal Rights and Opportunities of Women and Men intends to eliminate institutional and legal barriers to gender equality.
With European Union and UNDP support, the Order on Integrating the Principles of Gender Equality in Education was issued in 2009 and gender standards in education, based on European Union best practices and the Bologna process, were developed, including guidelines on conducting gender expert assessment of school curricula and guidelines for teachers on eliminating gender stereotypes in teaching. From 2008 to 2011, gender education centres were set up to provide scientific and technical support for the development of innovative forms and methods of gender education. At the regional level, the Ukraine–EU Association Agreement, signed in 2014, envisages a specific commitment to enhance gender equality in education and training opportunities.
In education, both the 2017 Law on Education and the 2014 Law on Higher Education guarantee the right to free education regardless of gender. The former does not explicitly cover discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression in education, while the latter specifically prohibits any restrictions in the exercise of the right, except in cases established by the Constitution and laws of the country.
Ethnic and linguistic groups
The 1996 Constitution, as amended in 2016, guarantees the use of Ukrainian (Art. 10) and at the same time supports the use and development of national languages and cultures in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (Art. 138). The 1992 Law on National Minorities, last amended in 2012, promotes the use of and training in the native language and the study of the native language in public education institutions.
The Law on Education (Art. 7) lays down the right for persons belonging to national minorities to obtain education in their language and in the official language of the state in public institutions of pre-primary, primary and secondary education. This right is realized by creating separate classes and/or groups whose language of instruction is one of the national minority languages along with the official language of the state. The minority languages taught in the Ukrainian school system include Russian, Romanian, Polish, Crimean Tatar, Slovak, Hungarian and Moldovan. In multicultural regions of the country, a special education orientation course has been implemented in secondary schools by the Ministry of Education and Science to promote tolerance.
While the legal framework promotes multilingualism, the Medium-Term Government Priority Action Plan to 2020 points out the need to promote the use of Ukrainian in the media, culture, education and science in order to foster national identity and unity. Appealing to Article 10 of the Constitution, the plan intended to develop a network of education institutions in Ukrainian and improve their educational and methodological provision, in line with the 2016–20 Strategy for National and Patriotic Education of Children and Youth.
In 2013, a strategy on the protection and integration of the Roma minority into the Ukrainian society for the period to 2020 was adopted. Among its objectives, the strategy commits to improving education for the group and conducting campaigns for promoting access to preschool up to higher education. In 2015, the Ministry of Education and Science approved an action plan to implement security policies at school and promote integration of the Roma minority into Ukrainian society by 2020.
People living in rural or remote areas
The 2016 New Ukrainian School framework pays particular attention to learners residing in rural areas and intends to extend the network of support schools to ensure quality education provision, especially at the secondary and higher profession-oriented levels. A pilot on establishing basic-level support to schools was planned to be conducted in up to 150 education institutions, also involving local communities.
Students residing in a rural area who need to move in order to obtain general secondary education are provided with transportation at the expense of local budgets, which also provide transportation for learners with visual impairment, hearing impairment and/or physical disabilities (Law on Education, Art. 13.4).
In recent years, depopulation has affected schools, especially in rural areas, and consequently the quality of education. In this context, some learners receive individual tuition and teachers are requested to teach multiple subjects.
As stated in the 1996 Constitution, amended in 2016, accessible and free education is provided from preschool until higher education. The state also guarantees textbooks and handbooks free of charge. As specified in the 2017 Law on Education, national and local authorities are responsible for providing free meals at school to orphans, children deprived of parental care, children with special education needs and children from families that receive social assistance, according to the Law on State Social Assistance to Low-income Families.
To implement the 2014 Ukraine–EU Association Agreement, a Poverty Reduction Strategy was adopted in 2016, expanding social assistance for low-income families. Concerning education, the strategy commits to increasing the availability of preschool and general secondary education in small and rural settlements through alternative provisions, such as online courses.
Internally displaced persons
According to the 2014 Law on Ensuring Rights and Freedoms of Internally Displaced Persons, as amended in 2018, internally displaced persons (IDPs) cannot be discriminated against in the exercise of their rights and freedoms (Art. 14). The law enshrines their right to continue education at all education levels and mandates the state to cover the related costs (Art. 7). IDPs are entitled to enrol in primary and secondary educational institutions (Art. 9) and in preschool, vocational and higher education (Art. 11). To respond to the displacement crisis, the law was amended in 2015 and the official registration of the place of residence for IDPs was no longer considered a limitation to the IDPs’ rights. Existing legislation was also amended to facilitate access to education for the concerned group, for example by covering tuition and providing education loans and free learning materials.
Coordination across sectors
The 2016 New Ukrainian School framework grants greater autonomy to secondary schools. They are delegated administrative and methodological authority, including on curriculum adjustment, syllabus development and selection of textbooks and teaching materials. Local communities are expected to be more engaged in the development of local education policy, tailoring the education system to local culture.
Coordination across government levels
A directorate of the Ministry of Education and Science is dedicated to inclusive and out-of-school education. The directorate aims in part to promote the independence and social adaptation of children with special needs and to enforce their right to equal access to quality education.
Under the Cabinet of Ministers, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Social Policy, a Council for the Affairs of Persons with Disabilities is in charge of coordination across executive authorities which deal with persons with disabilities and is responsible for preparing related policy proposals.
The Ministry of Social Policy is the central executive body responsible for the promotion of gender equal rights and opportunities, also receiving claims about gender discrimination. In 2008, gender working groups were set up in nine key ministries to develop related annual action plans.
As regulated in the Framework for Social Protection of Persons with Disabilities, as amended in 2011, institutions and organizations are responsible for creating accessible conditions for persons with disabilities (Art. 27). The 2017 Law on Education establishes the duty of facilities and premises of education institutions to meet accessibility requirements based on universal design and/or reasonable adjustment (Art. 20.6/7).
Curriculum and learning materials
The Institute for Modernization of Educational Content of the Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for designing the national curriculum, textbooks, manuals, dictionaries, other reference books and teaching materials for secondary schools in Russian and in other languages of national minorities.
Following the adoption of a 2009 order on implementation of the principles of gender equality in education, the secondary school curriculum was reviewed in 2011 to detect gender stereotypes. At present, the national secondary school health curriculum for grades 5 to 9 aims to raise awareness of diversity, promoting tolerance and respect, while the national secondary school social science curriculum for grade 11 addresses stereotypes and prejudices with the aim to foster social inclusion.
Textbooks for an oral course in the Roma language have been developed for the first and the beginning of the second grade. An electronic version of methodological recommendations, manuals and textbooks was translated into Hungarian and Ukrainian for elementary school students, and textbook notes were created for teachers of schools with a majority of Roma students.
Professionals working with children and youth with disabilities receive specific training. Decision No. 1719/2006 introduced, for example, special training in remedial education to qualify specialists working with children with special mental or physical development needs. In 2010, a bachelor’s degree programme was established to train teachers in primary education for children with locomotor system impairments.
The Procedure for the Organization of Inclusive Education in General Education Establishments, approved by Decision No. 872/2011, introduced specialist disability and speech therapy teachers in the general education workforce. In addition, the profile of assistant to inclusive education teacher has been included in the Classification of Occupations. More recently, the Ministry of Education and Science and the Institute of Special Education at the National Academy of Educational Sciences of Ukraine jointly developed an introductory training course on inclusive education within the postgraduate teacher education programme.
Acknowledging that teacher training does not meet the requirements of the New Ukrainian School framework, the Medium-Term Government Priority Action Plan to 2020 intends to develop a Concept for the Development of Pedagogical Education, a sectoral framework for pedagogical workers’ qualifications, and set professional standards for primary school teachers and higher education professionals. In this direction, the 2017 Law on Education states that assistant teachers are part of the staff of education institutions to support individuals with special education needs in general secondary education.
Based on the 2009 order on the implementation of the principles of gender equality in education, recommendations for teachers on eliminating gender stereotypes in teaching were developed. Gender sensitivity was promoted in postgraduate training programmes targeted at teachers, technical staff and heads of secondary schools. Gender issues were included in training curricula for psychologists and social educators.
Supported by a grant from the World Bank aimed at strengthening evidence-based policy making in the education sector, Ukraine is working on the development of a modern system of education statistics and analysis. The project is expected to upgrade the country’s Education Management Information System to provide institutional capacity building and produce an open data portal. Within a general education reform, the Institute of Educational Analytics was established in 2015 under the Ministry of Education and Science.
In the social sector, the Act on Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities requires data to be collected on disability issues, including the level of education and vocational training of adults and children with disabilities (Art. 41).