On Sept. 1, Ukrainian schoolchildren will return to schools for the first time since quarantine. However, the government is not ready to provide proper schools operation amid the epidemic. According to OPPOSITION PLATFORM – FOR LIFE MP Serhiy Lovochkin, the recommendations by the Education Ministry on organization of school process amid COVID-19 might be impossible to comply with due to lack of funding.
“In spring, when the government approved the budget cutting, they cut education sector funding by 3bln hryvnia. These funds were supposed to be spent on fighting the coronavirus, including additional transfers to local budgets. However, by the start of the schoolyear the COVID-19 fund is empty,” the politician said.
He reminded that the Ministry recommended to supply all schools with disinfectants, cleansers, and individual protection equipment.
“As long as the state budget has no money for fighting coronavirus, these obligations are now offloaded onto local budgets — exactly the ones who lost the 3bln hryvnia in subventions that were to be spent on furniture, new equipment, repair works, and bonuses for young teachers. As a result, 40 percent of schools need to be renovated as of the start of the schoolyear; no new furniture, no funds for anti-epidemic measures,” the MP said.
He added that the ever-persisting problem of low salaries for teachers remains. In the first six months of 2020, average salary in education sector was 8,816 hryvnia per month, which is almost 20 percent lower than the average in the economy. A young teacher without much experience only earns 4,394 hryvnia per month effective July 1, 2020 (or 5,800 hryvnia with bonuses).
“Still, these salaries are not even paid on time. In the first six months of this year the wage arrears in the sector rose by 44 percent, having topped 19mln hryvnia in total. This means the government is not ready to provide relevant funding of education during this schoolyear. OPPOSITION PLATFORM – FOR LIFE thus demands that the first decision voted by the parliament after it returns to work is a decision to increase the education subvention by at least 5bln hryvnia, restore previously set levels of school maintenance subventions that had been eliminated in the budget cutting, and provide for budget funding of education at 7 percent of GDP next year, as stipulated by the law,” Lovochkin said.Follow @serhiylovochkin