This is a great loss for scientific and pedagogical, scientific workers.
In total, more than 300 participants took part in the parliamentary hearings.
In my speech, I drew the attention of the audience to the existing problems in the financing of educational and scientific fields and suggested possible ways to solve them.
In particular, I noted that the processes of budget decentralization, started in 2015, have a certain tendency to reduce the share of education expenditures in the state budget of Ukraine and increase it in local budget expenditures at all educational levels. But in practice, local authorities are in no hurry to invest in education. Obviously, there is a kind of institutional memory that these expenditures should be borne by the national budget.
Unfortunately, our state still continues to consider the cost of education as an element of social policy, rather than as an investment in the country’s human capital. Much the same can be said about the attitude to science.
In this regard, we as educators and scientists should develop a coherent program of action that would help to form a healthy and balanced policy of financing the educational and scientific field in the current environment. With this in mind, in my speech I focused on those aspects that, in my opinion, should be taken into account in this policy.
First of all, I drew attention to what cannot be done in the course of implementing the policy of financing education and science.
1. We cannot fight poor education by reducing funding.
Unfortunately, today there is a clear tendency to dominate this approach. Reducing the funding of educational institutions, allegedly under the pretext that they do not provide quality or do not provide quality education, in my opinion, is a wrong approach. This looks like a cunning pretext to destroy something that will then be difficult to rebuild. If there are problems with the quality of work of an educational or research institution, it is first necessary to find a way to conduct anti-crisis measures in it before a decision is made to reduce funding.
2. We cannot destroy the old system without a clear idea of how the new one will be created.
In place of what disappears, something new must always arise, otherwise there is extinction and degradation. Unfortunately, in our society it is easy to destroy the old, and it is very difficult to create a new one. We have a very specific example of how new kindergartens are being created with great difficulty in place of closed kindergartens, although the need for them is growing every day. According to the operative data of the regional education authorities, at the beginning of 2016 more than 90 thousand children were in line for placement in kindergarten.
3. We cannot live in legal nihilism.
Unfortunately, it should be noted that a large number of adopted laws relating to education and science are not being implemented. In addition, they are not implemented in terms of budget funding. That is a fact. You can often hear many complaints and grievances about non-compliance with these laws. But we must objectively ask the question: if non-compliance is so systematic, what are the real reasons? Perhaps one of the reasons is the practical impossibility of their implementation. Unfortunately, a country with our per capita GDP cannot always afford the costs that would be objectively better for education and which lawmakers try to incorporate into law using their best motivations.
The problem of non-compliance with the laws on education and science, as well as many other laws governing the public sphere, is primarily that they prescribe budget expenditures, which for one reason or another are not possible.
The problem of distribution of budget expenditures on education and science must be solved, first of all, at the level of adoption of the Law “On the state budget” for the corresponding year. So it, in fact, is decided on the fact, because the Law of Ukraine “On State Budget” has priority over other special laws. In such circumstances, the struggle for funding must, in fact, take place annually, taking into account objective and variable indicators of budget revenues. Therefore, it depends on each educational institution and research institution, on our common position of scientists and educators, what policy and what calculations are made to finance education and science.
A smart and balanced funding strategy for science and education is needed, which will show that funds are used rationally, thoughtfully and transparently. Such a strategy will build the necessary level of trust between the various stakeholders and agencies in education and science funding.
4. We cannot live in a system of unpredictable and uncalculated decisions.
We see the serious consequences of making ill-considered and unreasonable decisions.
In particular, it is a problem with the provision of textbooks for students in grades 4 – 7, which has not yet been finally resolved, and the problem of transferring funding for vocational education from state to local budgets, which put on the verge of destroying a number of vocational schools, and the issue related to the increase of the minimum wage to UAH 3,200, the implementation of which leads to a critical load on the special funds of higher education institutions, and the situation with not determining the further status of technical schools and colleges.
What we have to do
1. We can approve our strategic vision of financing all levels of education.
It is necessary to structurally determine the sources of funding for all levels of education (preschool, out-of-school, secondary, vocational, higher) and to enshrine this funding procedure in the relevant legislation. This vision should be based on a balanced approach based on a combination of funding from local and state budgets, and from private sources. All levels of education, except higher education, must take into account funding through the education subvention from the state budget, as well as funding from the local budget. This applies to preschool, out-of-school, general secondary and vocational education. For vocational education, state funding should be provided for training in professions of national importance.
According to this concept, it is proposed to refer higher education to the economic sphere and consider it as an area of investment policy. An important source of funding for higher education should be loans provided by the state for student education.
In the field of science, the principles of financing the industry should be changed by diversifying sources. It is necessary to keep the basic expenditures on the salaries of scientists so that they can work quietly and to preserve scientific schools in general. But it is also necessary to develop and improve the mechanisms of grant support, which will be directed to strategically important research and projects. Mechanisms should be developed to stimulate the inflow of extra-budgetary funds and investments that can come to the scientific sphere from investors and cooperation with business. Supporting innovation and venture business, as well as encouraging businesses that are willing to invest in research, should be part of the national program. We must understand that the beginning of the era of intellectual and craft work gives us a chance to use new mechanisms for the development of our country.
2. The second important point is that we can achieve a balance between the funding policy and expenditures of educational and research institutions in the Budget Code and other laws of Ukraine.
Unfortunately, we have a high level of economic and financial independence of those educational and scientific institutions that are budgetary institutions. The financial autonomy of such institutions is critical for them to raise extra-budgetary funds, sponsorship funds or to pursue more flexible financial policies and management. Lack of financial autonomy entails limited autonomy in academia. One example of how this works is that any forced increase in wages that occurs annually in budgetary organizations inevitably leads to staff reductions. This is a great loss for scientific and pedagogical, scientific workers.
Gradually, we are all beginning to understand that it is impossible to ensure the efficient use of budget funds in an environment where educational and scientific institutions operate in the mode provided for them today by the Budget and Commercial Codes, when they do not have financial autonomy and, consequently, do not carry serious market responsibility for the results of its activities.
On the other hand, the prospect of losing the status of a budgetary institution greatly frightens managers and employees of educational institutions and research institutions. This is due to the specifics of the general policy of taxation and control in our country. Today, this policy is still not conducive to economic development, and this must be acknowledged. Because of this, we must develop a clear position that would justify those changes in the legislation that will allow educational institutions and research institutions to develop, attract additional funds and not live in the penumbra. This position should be based on the principle of non-taxation for educational activities. The most liberal regime of taxation and regulation is also necessary for scientific activity ethan frome short summary and innovation.
3. The third essential principle of our strategy is the following. We can provide clear, transparent, diversified funding for a motivated person instead of inefficient funding for outdated institutions.
The approach to who exactly we fund: a person or an institution, is not so simple. In the system of education and science, people do not exist separately from institutions. However, the effectiveness of funding directly depends on only one thing: how much it reaches truly motivated learners or researchers and how much it helps them get the best results. This issue concerns not only the legislation, but also the implementation of laws, as well as the general principles of effective management, governance in education and science.
To ensure the mechanism of efficiency, in my opinion, it is necessary to have a clear, coherent program of action, which will be adopted and understood, implemented by various branches of government – legislative, executive, as well as the educational institutions and research institutions.