Ukraine, Janury 2010 —A hundred new school buses are to be delivered to Ukrainian schools under the World Bank-funded Equal Access to Quality Education in Ukraine Project. Transportation of students to and from schools will promote equal access to quality education for rural children, particularly to middle and senior high schools. Such schools must be fitted with study rooms for chemistry, physical, and biological classes as well as school workshops and computer classrooms. To provide these facilities in each village is impossible, so Ukraine has begun a process of reorganization and optimization of the rural school network. The delivery of school buses is a critical element of this process and will ensure that students from remote villages will be able to attend education in hub schools in selected central district locations. Among the buses to be delivered, seven are specialized which will help provide appropriate conditions in rural areas for handicapped children to receive full secondary education.
This December, the first 16 buses were delivered to seven districts of Zhytomyr Oblast. Zhytomyr Oblast Governor Yuriy Zabela said that the 16 new buses being added to the school fleet of vehicles was a great event for the oblast, particularly amidst the crisis, when education is seriously underfinanced. At the same time, the governor noted with satisfaction that in the region all of the indicators for measuring progress in education have improved in the past two years. “This concerns both the quality of education and the completion of five school buildings that had been under construction too long, the reopening of 50 preschool institutions and further construction of seven more education facilities," he said. Also, the processes of school network optimization are in full swing: currently, the region already boasts 44 institutions for talented kids and 49 educational and daycare centers and associations. The creation of 36 education districts is nearing completion. “Many thanks for the buses! I am sure this is one more step towards quality education. This will improve both the grades and the frame of personal priorities of our children,” he added.
Addressing the community, Zhytomyr Oblast Council Chairman Vitaliy Frantsuz said: “I sincerely thank the team of the Equal Access to Quality Education Project for such a present to the oblast! This is a great joy for the teachers, parents and the oblast`s leadership. I hope that in the future we`ll be able to purchase the necessary school vehicles by using the local budgets. And we are bound to achieve the target: 100 buses which the oblast now needs badly.”
Head of the Secondary and Preschool Education Directorate of the Ministry of Education and Science Oleg Yeresko said: “At last we can see the real achievements of the Equal Access to Quality Education Project. Of course, this was preceded by meticulous and long work. The government managed to find effective mechanisms for cooperation with the World Bank so as to obtain, at this juncture, a low-interest loan and provide school buses to our students.”
“Transporting students to and from schools is important in providing accessible and quality education in rural areas,” explained Anna Olifir, a World Bank Country Office economist in charge of education issues. “But this is only one step in the reform of secondary education supported by the Equal Access to Education project. Modern study programs are being developed under the Project as well. Work is underway on the further training of school teachers and principals and on school network optimization in the pilot districts. We are pleased to see this very complex reform effort finally getting under way. But a lot more work over a number of years will be needed for Ukraine to achieve an efficient, fair and modern secondary education system.”
Schools buses will before long be delivered to all pilot oblasts: 16 buses (15 regular and 1 specialized) to Rivne Oblast; 15 buses (14 regular and 1 specialized) to Transcarpathian Oblast; 26 buses (24 regular and 2 specialized) to Lviv Oblast; 12 buses (11 regular and 1 specialized) to Chernigiv Oblast; 14 buses (13 regular and 1 specialized) to Kherson Oblast, and one more specialized bus to Zhytomyr Oblast.