The start press conference of the project was conducted

The project “The educational system management of local communities: V4 countries experience for Ukraine”is implementing by the non-governmental organization “Resource and information center “Communities of Vinnytsia region”. Its main objective is to increase the effectiveness of the management of the educational system of local communities of Ukraine by disseminating the experience and best practices of the Visegrad countries. The project is co-funded by the governments of the Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia through the Visegrad Grants of the International Visegrad Fund. Today, 25 April, the start press conference of the project was conducted.  The representatives of the International Visegrad Fund participated in it. Deputy Director of the Fund Marek Pavlik told the audience about the fund’s activities. In his words, 18 years ago, the governments of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary created a fund to support initiatives from the public. Every year, each country allocates EUR 2 million to the budget of the fund. – We have several grants that are constantly active. The first is the Visegrad Grants. If you have a creative idea, you can apply for this grant. But you need to find partners from at least three of the Visegrad countries. The second direction is grants for mobility. They allow funding for tuition at universities in the countries of Visegrad, the Eastern Partnership and the Balkans. The third direction is grants for volunteers, – told Marek Pavlik. Representatives of the Fund stressed that the largest projects outside of Visegrad are funded in Ukraine. – On average, about 1200 applications are submitted annually to the Visegrad Fund. EUR 10 million which is about an eighth part of the annual budget of the Fund, are allocated to projects that are implemented in Ukraine. That means, Ukraine is the largest grant recipient outside Vysegrad“, – said Michal Pavlik, Public Relations Manager. During the press conference, project team stressed that the topic of education management is extremely relevant today. –The main article of expenditure of most communities is education. Another important aspect is decentralization in Ukraine, as amalgamated territorial communities were able to manage the education system. Previously, institutions were funded by district administrations. At present, ATCs faced a challenge, – said Andrii Kavunets, the head of the NGO “Resource and information center “Communities of Vinnytsia region”. Andrii Kavunets added that often communities spend more money on education than receive the provided educational subvention. In addition, communities hold schools where only a few students attend, which results in low-quality educational services and low logistical support. At the same time, these communities ignore issues that most people consider to be priority or problematic, as road conditions or medicine. During the press conference, the project team also stressed that in the context of improving the management of the education system the project is not just about optimizing schools. The objective of the project is to show how it is possible to manage education in such a way that educational institutions are not loss-making and children are provided with quality educational services. In order to achieve this, each community should monitor the demographic situation in the settlement, determine the load of schools and kindergartens, conduct a survey to find out the views of children, etc. After that, based on all these indicators, the community will be able to decide: the establishment of a reference school with centralized management and affiliates, the creation of a centralized accounting department, the lowering of the school category or optimization. The project coordinator Anastasia Lanova said that six experts will work on developing a methodology on how to better manage education: two from Ukraine and four from the Visegrad countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary). Specialists will be selected on a competitive basis. To submit a candidacy one can on the project site until 25 May. The methodology manual will be developed during five months on the basis of experience and best practices in the management of education and optimization of schools in the Visegrad countries. A manual with this information will be available on project as well as partners’ sites for all interested parties. – This project aims to create quality methodological recommendations. I hope that this project will be the starting point for future projects on approbation of this methodology with the system of education and its improvement in specific communities, – Anastasia Lanova remarked. The coordinator also said that the training phase of the project, which will take place in October, covers a 3-day training for representatives of 15 territorial communities of Vinnytsia region. The participants of the training will be 30 people – representatives of local self-government bodies and educational institutions / public of each territorial community. ​- The training will be conducted by all project experts on the basis of the methodology, which by that time will already be developed within the framework of our project, – A.Lanova specified. ​The final stage of the project will be conducting of the International Conference ” The educational system management of local communities: V4 countries experience for Ukraine”. Partners, project experts, government officials, local authorities and mass media will participate in this event. In total, the conference will be attended by about 100 people. The conference will present methodological recommendations developed within the framework of the project. The project coordinator also added that project partners from Visegrad countries are Association “Wielkopolski Centre for Local Government Education and Studies” (Poland), Institute for Stability and Development – ISD (Czech Republic), Rural Workshop Foundation (Hungary), Carpathian Euroregion Slovakia (Slovak Republic). In Ukraine the partners are: NGO “Euroregion “Dniester”, VRD INGO “Ukraine – Poland – Germany”,  CHEE “Vinnytsia academy of lifelong learning”, VRNGO “Educational space”.