Though still a new movement in Ukraine, homeschooling is growing in that nation thanks in part to recent changes in education law.
I witnessed some of the fruits of this growth—and was able to encourage homeschooling families—during a recent trip to Ukraine and the neighboring country of Georgia.
In October and November I spent 26 days traveling more than 18,000 miles to speaking engagements where I extoled the merits of homeschooling and Christian summer camps. While visiting a number of cities, I addressed more than 12,000 people in churches, conferences and seminars.
I was honored to hear that some Ukrainian families traveled more than eight hours to hear me speak. In the city of Kryvyi Rih I was invited to discuss homeschooling as a guest on a television show.
This burgeoning interest in homeschooling, I believe, has been fostered by an improved legal climate. A year ago a national law passed that gives parents in Ukraine the right to legitimately choose home education.
There are still challenges due to a lack of administrative procedures, with local authorities often putting up roadblocks to parents interested in homeschooling (like requiring a lot of test writing).
However, there is an advisory committee working with the Ministry of Education on administrative procedures and regulations. I met with several members of this committee and was able to encourage them.
There are now more than 500 families in Ukraine where parents are the primary educators, with many more using hybrid and alternate methods such as tutors and online classes. One study estimated that close to 1% of school-age children in Ukraine are enrolled in some alternative where they are “learning at home.” And homeschool support groups are now active in at least five cities.
In my experience this represents a major change. I have visited Ukraine many times since 1997, but it wasn’t until 2012 that I finally met a Ukrainian home educating family.
Things were much different for my 2018 trip!
Not only did I participate in several traditional home education seminars, but I also took part in alternate education panels where attendees included parents, public school teachers, education officials and politicians.
For my presentation in the city of Cherkasy, I was joined by a Christian parent who has been homeschooling for seven years. This veteran offered valuable insight to new and prospective homeschoolers at the event (which, incidentally, was organized by the Ovsyanyk family—the homeschoolers I met back in 2012!).
So what is next? Well, we have many invitations to return and share in many places in Ukraine, including conferences in at least five different cities. I plan to be back in Ukraine in February and likely several more times in 2019, so I look forward to seeing home education continue to thrive there.