Torino process Ukraine

Seeing through the fog of war: How the Torino Process is helping VET specialists in conflict-torn parts of Ukraine plan for the future

Then, as now, in 2016 education in parts of Ukraine was being disrupted by war. It would be six years before Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk were already partially under rebel control, as reflected in some of the comments from participants in 2016.

“We have great hopes that although today we are only able to work with a fraction of our regional VET system [because currently a large part of the region is under the control of rebels], one day we shall be able to put our experience of the Torino Process to use in the entire region,” noted Olga Lebedinska, of the Luhansk regional VET centre, at a regional conference in Dnipro in the summer of 2016.

Her colleague, Lubov Chikladze, noted: "The Torino Process gives us the tools to assess the overall performance of our VET system and how it compares to other systems. If we are able to continue living normally [in a region divided by war] our VET system can play its part in our future in a positive way."

In a detailed story for Live & Learn, the ETF told her story of fleeing as rebels advanced. Reaching the safety of territory controlled by Ukrainian government forces, she and eight other refugee colleagues set about re-establishing a regional VET centre in exile in the city of Severdonetsk, then located just 60km behind the frontlines of the rebel conflict. Since June 2022, following the Russian invasion, the city has been under Moscow’s control.

In 2016 that eventuality was not foreseen and Lubov and her colleagues re-established their regional VET centre, even though only 26 of Luhansk’s 81 VET schools were under Ukrainian control. Out of a pre-conflict population of 2.3 million people, just 217,000 were then living in Ukrainian-controlled territory.

Lubov, who at the time of the Dnipro conference was the Head of the Cabinet of Methodology of the Luhansk regional VET Centre, had never imagined that the Torino Process would become a tool for rebuilding a system of professional and vocational training torn apart by war.

"Quite a number of staff from the VET system in the region fled the war, but not a single VET school moved," she told Live & Learn.

"They have all their technical equipment and other materials and chose to stay."

A couple of schools that straddled the frontlines bravely continued to work until the fighting and shelling became too much to bear and they had to be evacuated, she added