As a result of the emergence of self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine, which are still beyond the control of the central government in Kiev, the universities have been evacuated from this territory. This evacuation was generally a very hasty process and teachers and students both had to leave all their equipment where it was. The same was true of the Donbas National Academy of Civil Engineering and Architecture, which, although it had received new buildings in Kramatorsk from the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science to keep it open, those buildings were in very bad condition. As part of the Czech Development Agency (CzDA) project the school building was first reconstructed with the help of the students themselves, after which renovation work began on the student halls of residence, including their interior fixtures and fittings. Almost 400 students and teachers should start to use the new premises after the holidays.
The CzDA has systematically focused on the education sector in Ukraine since 2014 as part of its support for the renovation and democratic transformation of that country. In accordance with the government resolution CzDA is continuing the implementation of its programme focused on the education sector, the aim of which is to support reform of the education system and bring Ukrainian universities closer to the European standard. This programme is based on three pillars, the third of which is material aid primarily for Ukrainian educational institutions evacuated from the eastern regions of the country, which is also the case of the Donbas National Academy of Civil Engineering and Architecture.
The Czech Development Agency, in cooperation with the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science, decided to provide aid to alleviate the difficult situation faced by these exiled schools, which had to move to new areas without equipment or background, as one of the first foreign donors. ”The Ministry has gradually provided the individual institutions with new buildings, which are generally in very poor technical condition. Some of them are even unusable without major works being carried out. The exiled institutions have had to cope with a huge administrative burden as they start classes in their new region and thus they had no means of securing funding for the reconstruction of the buildings they had acquired. One of these institutions is the Donbas Academy, which now operates in the town of Kramatorsk,” explains Kateřina Šimová from the Czech Development Agency.
The Ministry provided the Academy with an empty three-storey building, which was built in the 1960s. The building had been practically disused since 1983, and the condition it was in reflected that. Before the reconstruction the Academy was using 15 rooms, which it leased from the Donbas State Academy of Mechanization. Almost 300 students and the entire teaching staff had to squeeze into that space. The cramped situation had an adverse impact on teaching and, despite all the teaching staff’s efforts and enthusiasm, it was very difficult to get any work done and the school was unable to develop any further.
The students themselves were also involved in the reconstruction work
CzDA therefore had the newly allocated building reconstructed by local construction firm Megagrad. All the rooms and corridors in the building were repaired; old and damaged windows and doors were replaced. New sanitary facilities were built on all the floors of the building, and new electrical wiring was installed. The front part of the facade was insulated and given a new coat of paint, and part of the roof was also repaired. A student canteen was built, together with stylish premises for larger conferences and meetings. The school also received new furniture for the classrooms and offices.
“Thanks to this the building is now full of life; almost 400 day students and more than 150 correspondence course students finally have decent conditions to study in. There are now also the requisite facilities for the teaching staff and the ancillary staff, which comprises another 100 people. During the course of the reconstruction work Megagrad also employed students from the school, which gave them the appropriate experience in the field and also enabled them to earn money for their own needs. Some students were even offered the chance to take a full-time job with the company after they graduated,” says Deputy Rector for Science and International Relations Serhij Kolesničenko.
Employing students for the reconstruction work was also one of the conditions required by the tender. This enabled the students to get actively involved in the reconstruction of their school building, as well as in the subsequent reconstruction of one wing of the halls of residence building carried out by the Dynastyja company. ”The building works involved in the reconstruction of the school and then the halls were nothing new for us; we were familiar with them from classes and associated practical exercises. In the end it was actually a pleasant process for us, enabling us to test our skills and also make some extra cash,” says 24-year-old civil engineering student Bogdan, who was involved in the reconstruction of the building as part of the student programme together with his classmate Anastázie, who is two years younger. In charge of the actual reconstruction work on the school building was the Ukrainian company Megagrad, which won the tender. Coincidentally, this company also had to leave a separatist-controlled area and start its business elsewhere; however, that did not give it any advantage in the standard tender procedure.
During these summer holidays the installation of the furniture will be completed in the newly reconstructed halls of residence, where 176 rooms will provide accommodation for around four hundred students, as well as members of the teaching staff, in some cases also with their families.
“Thanks to the support of the Czech Development Agency our Academy will finally be able to operate as a new independent institution in Kramatorsk. We are therefore planning to increase the number of students and work more closely with other technical schools in the region in order to enable us to offer our students educational programmes of the highest quality,” says Serhij Kolesničenko.
Last year the newly reconstructed teaching facility at Donbas National Academy of Civil Engineering and Architecture in Kramatorsk was visited by the CzDA director Pavel Frelich, accompanied by a delegation of the upper chamber of the Parliament of the Czech Republic.