Baltic-Black Sea Education Shield

Mariya Zubrytska,
Adviser to the Rector on International Project Development,
Ivan Franko Lviv National University,

The Ukrainian education system is still facing major development needs, particularly the need of international policy advisory services and capacity-development assistance. The Baltic and Scandinavian states as well as partner higher education institutions and non-government organizations from North-European countries play are long-standing partners in supporting the process of educational reforms in Ukraine. It is enough to mention just two of the number of cases to see evidently this support of education sector in Ukraine. First of all, it is the case of the Finnish-funded project Learning Together which plays a crucial role in the capacity-building process of the New Ukrainian School reform development and helps Ukrainian educators to improve teaching and learning according to the requirements of 21st century.  Latvia could be listed as another case of supportive interactions towards modernization the higher education system in Ukraine.

Ukraine is a partner country to Latvia in development cooperation since 2007.  In 2014, Ukraine became the main beneficiary of Latvia’s support in its development cooperation policy. In 2015, Latvia started to allocate funds from its development cooperation budget for supporting Ukrainian students in the spring semester at the University of Latvia’s European Studies program. Contribution to education is regarded as a long term investment in the development of Ukraine’s future leaders.

Each year, the Political Science Division of the University of Latvia’s Faculty of Social Sciences (LU SZF), in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia, hosts students from various Ukrainian universities in an intensive training three-month-long intensive module the Young professionals` school: “Studies of the European Union – Internal and Foreign Policy”. Students of the Faculty of International Relations of Ivan Franko National University of Lviv have the opportunity to study as part of a one-semester English-language intensive training module in European studies as well.

The European Studies module consists of two integrated parts: Foreign policy (Europeanization: from partnership to EU membership, Modern EU integration processes) and domestic policy (EU Public Administration, Latvian Internal Policy, Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy). For each module passed, students will receive an internationally recognized certificate from the University of Latvia. The school of young professionals is designed for both bachelor’s and master’s level students as well as doctoral students who can choose modules based on their academic interests and needs.

The modular program in European studies for Ukrainian students from regional universities (Kyiv, Lviv, Dnipro, Poltava, Kharkiv) has been held for the sixth year in a row with the support of the Latvian Foreign Ministry. This project focuses on mutual exchange of experience, especially on political processes in Latvia and Ukraine, taking into account the peculiarities of Ukraine’s European integration process. Another goal of the project is to provide the younger generation with knowledge about the common European heritage and practical skills to adapt to life and study in different European countries, to be mobile, socially capable, able to communicate and protect their rights.

From the beginning until now dozens of Ukrainian students took part in the program of European studies, among them 25 students of my alma mater Ivan Franko National University of Lviv. Even the COVID 19 crises didn’t manage to stop the promotion and development of capacity-building project and co-operation programs in Ukraine. It is very promising gesture of a good willingness and reliable partnership, timely and needed in Ukraine at this moment. A lot of my friends and colleagues in Ukraine are joking that our partners from Baltic and Scandinavian states help us to build a powerful Baltic-Black Seas education shield. A good story should be developed!

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