Washington, D.C. (PRWEB) September 10, 2013
Corruption in higher education casts a shadow on many countries that are working towards more modern and progressive political and economic systems. While this is slowing changing, Ukraine has been no exception. From bribes to faculty or administrators to award degrees, to students benefitting from unregulated testing standards, corruption has undermined the quality of the country's higher education programs domestically and its recognition in the international market. As Ukraine moves toward a more transparent higher education system, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and American Councils for International Education, in an alliance with 16 other partners, are ramping up their participation and investment.
USAID has just committed over $2.3 million to fund “Phase II” of the Cooperative Agreement for the Ukrainian Standardized External Testing Initiative (USETI), increasing the total funding of this initiative to $6.2 million. The initiative will be spearheaded by the Ukrainian Standardized External Testing Initiative Legacy Alliance (USETI Alliance). Formed in 2010, this alliance comprises 18 organizations working toward defining and implementing standardized testing criteria and policies to improve the country’s higher education admissions. For the last three years, the Alliance has worked to bring together Ukrainian, American, and international partners in creating secure testing that meets international standards; developing strong legislative and regulatory policies governing testing and admissions; and rallying public support for equal access to education.
Jed Barton, director of USAID Mission for Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova remarked: “The cooperation between the USETI Alliance, the Government of Ukraine, and USAID is more than effective in attempting to improve the accessibility to, and the quality of, higher education— which will allow new generations of Ukrainians to realize their potential and push Ukraine into developing its social, political, and economic sectors.”
The USETI Alliance has asked American Councils to continue in its role as project coordinator and to help build a coalition of support for standardized testing and policies as a non-corruptible tool for admissions, consisting of supporters that understand the benefits of merit-based admissions in higher education institutions throughout Ukraine. Phase II of USETI is designed to directly benefit Ukraine’s more than 1,100 higher education institutions and affiliates, many of which have just started addressing issues of quality in education after the country's first national admissions testing standards were introduced in 2008.
The Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine (MOES), a key Alliance contributor, has helped to shape progress in testing technologies development. Evhen Sulima, first deputy minister of education and science, says: “Today, no one questions the role of standardized external testing (SET). All we need to move on is the improvement of test quality and to determine the next step of SET development.”
In addition, the USETI Alliance will provide mentoring and technical assistance to the Ukrainian Center for Education Quality Assessment (UCEQA) – the organization tasked with carrying out national standardized testing. This will ensure sustainable and independent development of quality tests, along with professional educational testing programs and acceptable admissions policy decision-making.
In addition to American Councils and USAID, members of the USETI Alliance are: American Institutes for Research (AIR); Borys Hrinchenko Kyiv University (Hrinchenko University); Center for Education Policy (CEP); Democratic Initiatives Foundation (DIF); Dragomanov National Pedagogical University (Dragomanov); FaktPublishing House/Kharkiv Oblast Charitable Foundation “TIMO” (Testing, Innovations, Educational Monitoring) (TIMO Foundation); International Renaissance Foundation (IRF); Ivan Franko National University of Lviv (LNU); Ministr of Education and Science of Ukraine (MOES); National Academy of Management (NAM); National Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of Ukraine (NAPSU); National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy (NAUKMA); OPORA Civic Network; pro.mova; Ukrainian Center for Education Quality Assessment (UCEQA); Union of Rectors of Ukraine (URU).
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