Monday, April 15, 2013

Ukraine Schools, Embassy and Dinner

Day two of our Kiev experience started with another trip to the IREX office to here from a teacher that teaches in the public school system. For all those teachers that are reading this you better sit down! Olexandr, our presenter, is a Master Teacher. His monthly salary is (wait for it! wait for it!) $250 per month. That's not a typo. Teachers here, even at private schools, barley make a living. Most either have spouses, usually husbands, that support them, or they hold second jobs.

Their workload is tremendous. Everyday's lesson plans have to been approved and signed off on by the Principal and the Principal can drop in any day to make sure the lesson they planned that day is what is being taught. Most teachers have their lessons complete, in detail, prior to the school year starting.

Ukraine public schools are highly centralized and thus teachers have a great bureaucracy to deal with. Teaching is not considered a very prestigious profession, and funding to schools is very,very minimal.

There are several different types of schools ranging from traditional public schools to boarding schools, to special needs schools (which are more for the blind, hearing impaired, and not  for students with learning disabilities) to schools where you attend from pre-school all the way through university.

Here's somes photo of the private school we visited. You'll notice how much nicer the facilities are. This school, parents pay about $350 per month to send their children:

The photographer in the back is actually a American trained medical doctor, but he couldn't find a job in Ukraine so he makes a little money doing photography!

This is the neighborhood right outside the school. There are miles of these soviet-style housing units throughout Kiev:

After this visit we went to the US Embassy. We had to leave all of our phones, cameras, etc. in the bus. Nothing was allowed inside.

The fellowship I have is through the State Department, so we met with the person that helps oversee the program in Ukraine.

Generally speaking what we heard is that Ukraine may be backsliding in their quest for Democracy. There's been some pretty serious allegations of election fraud and the corruption, at all levels of government, is considered right up their with Pakistan. The Embassy still hopes to be able to help turn things around and acknowledged that, for Ukraine, democracy is still a very new concept.

We had dinner at a brewery prior to going to hear a local Philharmonic.

One of the more appetizing menu items:

The beer was great!

After we got back to the hotel, I wanted to go out and take some pictures of some of the buildings in Kiev. They do a great job of lighting them up at night.

This building is called the University Building

Here are a few others including the Opera House, and a couple of Cathedrals:

I started writing this way back on April 10th. I've had little chance to finish it and I was having problems getting the pictures inserted. I hope I can catch up soon and get some posts in. Until then....

Mr. D

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