Ukrainian Government Says NO to Western Educated Ukrainians
Ukrainians with Western education are eager to fight corruption and bureaucracy in order to improve their country’s welfare in the aftermath of recent political upheaval. According to the most recent data of the Ukrainian information agency “UNIAN,” 1.5 million professionals with degrees from Harvard, Oxford, Columbia, and other leading universities are willing to work for the Ukrainian government for free. The question is: How willing and interested is the government to use their services?
The answer is an almost definite “no.” On the one hand, accepting the volunteer services offered by Western educated Ukrainian would save the Ukrainian government millions of dollars. On the other hand, the human factor will serve as a barely surmountable obstacle. How would the corrupt power benefit from the reforms by Ukrainian citizens educated into understanding the corruption as an undesirable, and, furthermore, shameful practice? To the relief of education specialists, there is hope for the Ministry of Education. Apparently, Serhiy Kvit is actively collaborating with Western education officials in order to combat corruption. However, doesn’t the anti-corruption initiative have to be uniform and target all the spheres of life to be effective? Can it cause serious change while addressing education exclusively?
Obviously, the people who have been building a kleptomaniac state for years will not easily allow the newcomers to overtake their business and implement Western anti-corrupt reforms. The system that exists in Ukraine now is so well-embedded and accepted that it will be difficult to deconstruct even for the people who truly wish to make a change. As a student who has gone through all the major levels of Ukrainian education, what concerns me the most is the reaction of the student population to the changes. Are they going to be able to face the fact that hryvnas will not be purchasing their grades anymore?
My prediction is that until the government agrees to hire qualified workforce that was not exposed to and socialized into corruption as a way of life, Kvit’s efforts to create a fair education system will not produce a radical turn that students are expecting and hoping for. Currently, every first grader in Ukraine is aware of the unfortunate reality that he/she needs to pay extra or give bribes in order to receive quality services from doctors, post office workers, and teachers. My 5-year old nephew has already heard of the prices of As and Bs in school. He is now accustomed to the idea that he is going to grow up in the corrupt state. There is a high possibility that when he grows up, he is not going to perceive giving money “for tea” (a Russian metaphor for tips) as an unacceptable practice similar to the current Ukrainian administration. It is only when he leaves the country and has an opportunity to look at it from the outside that he is going to understand the effect of this practice on the society as a whole. Western educated Ukrainians have already done that and it would be a major loss for Ukraine not to take advantage of the life-transforming ideas that they are ready to offer.