EPALE Podcast - The war in Ukraine and adult education. A voice from Kyiv
On this special EPALE Podcast, Gina Ebner, Secretary General of the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA), interviews Oleg Smirnov, Board member of EAEA, Ukraine Country director of the Representative office of DVV International, representative of the Ukrainian Adult Education association, member of the Integration and Development Centre for Information and Research.
Oleg is still in Ukraine and his voice reached us, on 12 April 2022, directly from Kyiv. His precious words give us a glimpse of real life in a city where raid sirens mark the rhythm of the days; where citizens reclaim their spaces; where adult educators, despite everything, continue their activities, providing help to deal with the war.
From the situation in Kyiv to the role of adult education
The situation in Kyiv is evolving, there are still a lot of people in the city – which retains a significant military presence – despite the number of inhabitants who have fled the city. Raid sirens ring a few times per day, but explosions are not frequent. Many commercial and cultural activities are attempting to reopen, including shops, theatres and museums, showing the impressive reliance of people in Ukraine. Oleg and his family, for example, started to volunteer since the beginning of the invasion, which has marked the beginning of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, given also the shortage of food and medicines.
The first concern for Oleg’s organisation was naturally the safety of his staff and their families, some of which have sought shelter in other parts of the country or abroad. Oleg and his colleagues have organised online support and discussion groups, psychological help and art therapy.
Adult education became a tool for sharing vital information to help everyone deal with the war.
Oleg’s organisation has maintained contacts with partners in other parts of the country, including those which have been, unfortunately, in temporarily occupied territories. Also these organisations have continued to deliver adult education, focusing on life-saving skills – as first aid – as well as psychological support and sewing.
Before the invasion, Oleg and his colleagues at the Ukrainian Adult Education Association were working on a new draft law on adult education in Ukraine, advocating for adequate funding and governance systems. Even with Russian troops approaching Kyiv, his leading advocacy work and parliamentary activities did not stop.
Oleg has stressed his gratitude for the support from international partner organisations and the global ALE community, together with whom he has worked for years on brilliant initiatives on citizenship and peace education. ALE organisations across Europe are contributing in various ways to help Ukrainian people both in the country and abroad, collaborating with local communities and governments. Oleg has been engaged in many discussions and exchanges to advise partners abroad in the organisation of support and educational activities for refugees and locals.
EPALE is extremely grateful to Oleg Smirnov, his colleagues and the Ukrainian ALE community for their exemplary service in these difficult times.
You can download the transcript here