One year of war in Ukraine

“Professional Education Online” – a new and innovative digital platform to sustain TVET education in Ukraine

Ukraine strives to maintain access to technical vocational education and training during the war with ILO’s commitment and support. A new online platform assists 225,000 TVET students in keeping up with their studies.

News | 21 February 2023

BUDAPEST (ILO News) - Like all Ukrainians, on February 24th 2022, students of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), found themselves in a new reality that disrupted their lives and their outlook on the future. Shortly after in person school attendance became normal again - following the closures during the COVID-19 pandemic - Russia’s full-scale invasion forced a large part of the young population into bomb shelters, to other parts of Ukraine or to leave their homes for another country. As the war unfolded, educational institutions increasingly suffered damages, destruction, or were no longer safe places to learn.

The Ministry of Education and Science, and teachers all over Ukraine, demonstrated a remarkable resilience in their strive to guarantee the continuation of general schooling and TVET. The experience with teaching remotely, acquired during the pandemic, enabled teachers to immediately switch to online and blended instruction. Keeping up the routine of e-learning did not only prevent young people from losing out on education and training. It also proved to be a temporary distraction from the horrors of war, and provided teachers and students alike with a sense of community and belonging.

Since 2020, the ILO has supported the Ministry of Education and Science in the development of digital TVET curricula, online simulators and teacher training in e-Learning didactics. However, one important project was disrupted by the war: the design of a national e-learning platform, which was supposed to serve as a training hub to connect all TVET schools, teachers and students in one virtual space. As the conflict protracted, it became clear that this platform was now needed more than ever. Programmers hit the keys and worked out configurations. ILO facilitated exchanges with other countries including Brazil and Montenegro, to understand the set-up of similar platforms. Even a missile strike in October 2022, severely damaging the Directorate for TVET, could not stop the process.

On December 23rd 2022 at 13:00 Kyiv time, and amidst an air raid, the Professional Education Online Platform was officially launched. Every week since the launch, new digital training materials are being released. The online platform currently covers 29 occupations, with 60 more in the pipeline). General education items, such as languages and natural sciences, as well as learning materials for grades 5-11, can also be accessed by the 225,000 Ukrainian TVET students. These will soon be complemented by civic education resources, some of which were developed by ILO. These include the Biz-UP: entrepreneurship skills for youth, a self-learning course on soft skills for young Trade Unionists, as well as to the interactive game Employment without Filters, where animated characters of young people learn about their rights at work.

The platform is user-friendly and intuitive. It allows learners to follow formal TVET studies supported by an educator, and they can select additional training resources in a self-paced learning format. The lack of face-to-face interaction is particularly challenging for TVET, as roughly 50 – 60 per cent of each curriculum require practical training. Well-designed digital multi-media training increases the practical character of online learning and makes learning more experiential. Moreover, digitally supported training leads education into the future. The Professional Education Online Platform is a unique investment that will facilitate learning for years to come. Current plans include adding retraining courses for adult learners. This will particularly benefit unemployed and displaced workers, as well as companies seeking to up-skill their staff to keep their businesses going.

In the Ministry’s quest to digitally cover more TVET occupations and boost lifelong learning, ILO is committed to provide support. Currently, digital learning materials for 10 occupations are being developed. One of them features a collaboration with the European Training Foundation (ETF) and focusses on short training interventions for adults in construction skills, supported by Virtual Reality modules for the rapid acquisition of practical skills. And, of course, ILO will continue to support the Ministry in maintaining, improving, and enlarging the architecture of the platform itself.