The preparatory phase for implementing the reform of specialised secondary education continues in Ukraine

The introduction of specialised secondary education marks a significant continuation of one of the key reforms of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, known as the New Ukrainian School reform. This reform is based on the legislative framework provided by the Law on Education of 2017 (No. 2145-VIII) and is further detailed in the Law on Complete General Secondary Education of 2020 (No. 463-IX). The main principles of this educational reform and the roadmap for its implementation are outlined in the Concept of the New Ukrainian School.

Specialised secondary education is the third and final stage of complete general secondary education in Ukraine, which requires three years of study. According to the statistics of the Information Bulletins, which are prepared annually by the SSI “Institute of Educational Analytics”, in the academic year 2023/2024, 416,164 students received specialised secondary education in 6,536 lyceums, which is 82.9% of their total number. Of the total number of students, 315,159 live in urban areas, while 101,005 live in rural areas. Currently, specialised secondary education includes 25 field-specific areas, the most popular being Ukrainian Philology, Foreign Philology, and Mathematics. More detailed statistical data can be found on the website of the SSI “Institute of Educational Analytics” (in the “Information Bulletins” section).

Although Ukrainian high school students now have the opportunity to choose their educational profile, the current model is not working as intended. Therefore, the reform of specialised secondary education aims to individualise education at the high school level, ensuring students’ freedom of choice and adaptation to their individual needs.

The provision of specialised secondary education will be offered in two directions:

  • Academic specialised education, which provides a complete general secondary education with simultaneous in-depth study of individual subjects, taking into account the abilities and educational needs of students to facilitate their progression to higher levels of education.
  • Vocational specialised education, which is labour market-oriented and combines a complete general secondary education with a professionally oriented approach to learning, taking into account the abilities and needs of students in order to facilitate their further professional development.

Currently, a draft of the State Standard for Specialised Secondary Education has been developed and publicly discussed. In particular, it has been evaluated by the principal investigators of the international PISA study. The draft proposal offers students the opportunity to create their own educational trajectories by choosing their preferred study profile and academic subjects. It also includes nine knowledge branches, in contrast to the previous seven. The relevant profiles will be created by choosing integrated and cross-cutting courses, as well as subjects. For this purpose, educational institutions will be given the opportunity to combine profiling models (i.e., in-depth study of subjects, specialised courses, career-oriented courses, integrated solutions, etc.) according to students’ interests and their own abilities. The draft standard places particular emphasis on the creativity and autonomy of both teachers and students.

As part of the implementation of specialised secondary education, each region of Ukraine is required to develop a project for a network of specialised educational institutions by September 2024. This includes the identification and separation of lyceums (grades 10-12) from primary schools (grades 1-4) and gymnasiums (grades 5-9), taking into account the requirements for a safe, inclusive and digital educational environment, demographic indicators of the respective territorial communities, their capacity for higher school specialisation and the need to include all study profiles.

The pilot phase of the project will begin in September 2025 and will include the testing of profiling models, curricula and materials. The first 25 schools have already been selected to mentor the pilot schools. On 3-4 April 2024, with the support of the Ukrainian-Swedish project DECIDE and PHZH International Projects in Education, a two-day forum “Reforming Senior Specialised Secondary Education (Academic Lyceums)” was held to prepare for the pilot. On 9 April, with the organisational and expert support of DECIDE, a strategic meeting was held to summarise the results of the analytical phase of the development of the Strategy for the reform of specialised secondary education, in which representatives of the SSI “Institute of Educational Analytics” took part.

During the period of 2023-2024, the preparatory stage of the reform of specialised secondary education is underway. This stage includes not only the development of the strategy and the prospective map of the network of academic lyceums but also the creation of a roadmap and the adjustment of the legislative framework. The full implementation of the reform of specialised secondary education will take place in 2027, coinciding with the transition to a 12-year school education system. This is in line with the practice in European countries.

 

Infographics of the reform of specialised secondary education 

Source: Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine