Curricula, standards and the NQF in Kyiv
When implementing a national qualifications framework (NQF), moving from theory to practice is a challenge for any country and Ukraine is no exception. Yet the country has taken a big step by bringing together stakeholders from three branches of education (general, vocational and higher) and employer representatives for the first time. Together, more than 100 stakeholders identified common problems – and possible solutions – and strengthened commitment on how best to align standards and curricula to the NQF at a conference in Kyiv organised jointly between the ETF, the British Council and the Council of Europe.
‘Don’t leave it to the bureaucrats,’ urged Volodimir Kovtunets, from the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine. ‘We can do it. But we’ll do a better job if we can insight from people on the ground.’
Common standards and curricula that deliver people with skills that correspond to standards are essential for effective qualifications.
Reaching a common understanding was one reason to bring people together. As there is little opportunity for different branches of education to work together, standards and curricula can be developed in isolation. Bringing stakeholders together offers the chance for them to create a common understanding of the current situation and to see how their own work fits with the bigger picture. This is particularly important in Ukraine, where decentralisation means that decision making will take place at regional level.
Creating a common understanding starts with the basics, including agreed definitions for common terminology, such as competences, curricula and standards.
At the start of the conference, although there may only have been little awareness over how curricula and standards worked in different branches of education, it became clear that there was consensus on the importance of standards.
And, by the end of the conference, there were a number of suggestions from stakeholders on how to move forward. One priority is better matching education to labour market needs through improved forecasting. Involving employers is central to success.
All concluded that continued cooperation is also essential. Proposals on how to do this ranged from working together to create a common glossary, creating a central online repository for all relevant information, and creating a coordinating body.
There may have been difficult questions at the start of the conference to draw out different positions and approaches to improving qualifications in Ukraine. By the end, the conclusion was that a common language creates common goals that, in turn, leads to common success.
‘Successful states need reliable education systems to deliver innovation and strong economies’ said Petro Bekh, Pro-Rector of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.