The word “sugar” won’t leave a sweet taste in your mind
Mykhailo Lebed, co-organizer of the student protests on 25 May and Head of the Council of the Regional Initiatives Foundation [FRI], a youth NGO, has responded to the allegations made by the Minister of Education following the protests which swept the country.
He is blunt in saying that Tabachnyk is lying both in his allegations about the protesters being paid by foreign foundations and in his claim that the 9 demands have been met.
With regard to “foreign funding”, Mykailo Lebed points out that no protester was paid for their participation and that the NGOs who organized the protest – FRI, the student union Direct Action and the civic movement Vidcich, do not have foreign bank accounts, while the last NGO the Ukrainian Association of Student Self-Government doesn’t even have a bank account in Ukraine.
He points out that the Minister did not entirely tell fibs since there were some at the protest in Kyiv paid a modest 50 UAH for standing there to “support the new draft law”. See http://youtu.be/5tMHIKe-EdQ
As for the demands, he asserts that only 2 and a half of the 9 demands have been met in the Ministry’s draft Law on Higher Education.
For example, the bill allows institute administrations to increase tuition fees for students on contracts at any time, and not even just once a year, despite the Minister’s claim that the bill allows for unchanged fees.
He is equally scathing of Tabachnyk’s assurances in live broadcasts that the student grant will be at the level of the subsistence minimum. Obviously they support the introduction of this to the law but they are highly sceptical.
The claim in the Ministry is also untrue that the issue of lecturers’ teaching hours has been standardized. In fact the draft law has cancelled the upper limit, which at present is 900 hours. Instead the Cabinet of Ministers would have the right to set these on an annual basis, this clearly creating the temptation to save money by increasing lecturers’ load.
The wording of the norm regarding automatic expulsion for “academic plagiarism”, he says, needs at very minimum rewording to ensure that it does not become another form of extorting bribes.
He therefore proposes that the Ministry again sit down with students and youth organizations, but this time it must be with the media present.