We have invited Ukrainian professors to share their views on the question, “why should we support higher education in Ukraine?” In this first publication of the series, associate professor Valentyna Kuryliak raises several philosophical questions, reflecting on the value of higher education in Ukraine.
Most are familiar with the term value. Value, in turn, is the subject of study of such a science as axiology, or the science of values. Values usually include spiritual, moral, aesthetic, social, cultural, and so. One of the sections of axiology is the science of the values of education, which is a system of ideals, canons, and principles that regulate the educational sphere and build an educational component in the structure of the human personality.
As a result, the educational system of any country is a special national, ethnic, and cultural value. Therefore, the existence of various educational systems in different countries constitutes a complex of one global value called education. Therefore, an attempt to destroy one of the educational systems – which has its own history of development, traditions, outstanding personalities of who built it, a unique language, and so on – requires strong arguments and explanations, not least to the international community. This is relevant in the twentieth century, since European democracy was created in order to protect the rights of all who live by its laws, especially when it comes to an entire nation – in our case, the Ukrainian people. Based on the above, we must ask a number of axiological questions on this topic: Why is it important to support higher education in Ukraine?
If, in the twenty-first century, it is allowed to physically destroy and make “military invalids” and psychologically traumatise an entire nation, then what is the value of human life?
If, in the twenty-first century, millions of families are forced to be separated and lose relatives because of the war on the territory of an entire country, then what is the value of the family?
If, in the twenty-first century, they celebrate a wedding under bomb explosions in military overcoats, then what is the value of love?
If, in the twenty-first century, one country can start a war against another, guided by imperial ambitions, then what is the value of peace?
If, in the twenty-first century, one state does not recognise the internationally recognised sovereignty and boundaries of another, then what is the value of the term “state”?
If, in the twenty-first century, people are forced to lose their jobs because one state physically destroys the civilian infrastructure of another, what then is the value of human labour?
If, in the twenty-first century, one state destroys the cultural sights of another with missiles, then what is the value of creativity?
If, in the twenty-first century, one state, through its media, portrays another state as Nazis, then what is the value of truth?
If, in the twenty-first century, the president of the largest country in the world publicly promised that he would not start a war against a neighboring country, then did, then what is the value of honor?
If, in the twenty-first century, Russian rockets destroy temples, churches, and religious buildings, then is the value of faith?
If, in the twenty-first century, it is necessary to give one’s life to defend one’s country, then what is the value of patriotism?
If, in the twenty-first century, one state wants to enslave another, then what is the value of freedom?
And if, in the twenty-first century, there are studies on the topic, “Why is it important to support higher education in Ukraine?”, then what is the value of education?
Based on the above questions, to which Ukraine and the international community cannot get answers from the Russian Federation, we are forced to state that the greatest value of any state is the borders that have been recognised by the international community. This includes the higher education of this country, which teaches these standards to its students. Ukrainian education has its own history, language, culture, traditions, and values. Therefore, the support and preservation of higher education in Ukraine is an important component and a manifestation of worthy solidarity from the educational systems of other states.
If we do not support Ukrainian higher education at this most difficult historical moment for sovereign Ukraine, then there will be dire results: If, in the twenty-first century, every well-armed country can afford to trespass with impunity on the borders of another country and systematically drop bombs and missiles on civilian infrastructure without warning, including kindergartens, schools, universities, and hospitals, then why study the lessons of the history of World War I and II? Thanks to the educational systems functioning in different countries of the world, the greatest value of Earthly civilisation has been formed – a person in the full sense of the word. If, for the sake of preserving the face of the president of the Russian Federation, the international community yields to one nation that has its own history, education system, culture and, most importantly, its citizens, then future generations will be forced to blush for their ancestors. A similar picture was already observed when the civilised world turned a blind eye to Nazism, including the destruction of the Jewish nation by Hitler. Is it worth repeating the horrific lessons of the past?
Ukrainian higher education is as valuable as the education of any democratic state. Therefore, the support and preservation of higher education in Ukraine during the war indicates that the world community understands the content of universal human values and tries to act in accordance with them. We are forced to admit that today, there are a number of countries and famous personalities who are ready to sacrifice the Ukrainian nation for the sake of maintaining peace on Earth. Such calls that it is necessary to relent to the Russian Federation so that the war does not go beyond the Russian-Ukrainian borders. Moreover, some European countries are suffering high energy prices, so their residents are asking: “Why are we forced to pay twice as much for fuel? Is this our war?” Yes, the war is not yours, but then what is the value of partnerships between states? Why then study political science, jurisprudence, history of international relations, if the content of these subjects has no practical value?
Therefore, the preservation and support of higher education in Ukraine is a manifestation and confirmation of the fact that universal human values have value in the twenty-first century. History will keep a list of countries that have sacrificed their blessings to help another nation. The mass media of the future will tell and show who acted in accordance with the values acquired by humankind, and who remained on the sidelines. Some descendants will be proud of their leaders, others will rewrite and erase the pages of their history, justifying their actions by the dictator-president or the lack of the ability to act in good conscience. However, the higher education of every value-minded country will retain lessons that will be passed on to the next generations. So, the question is what teachers will tell their students. We are in a crisis situation, with the Russian Federation destroying Ukraine for no reason, we must support and shelter students and teachers from Ukrainian universities, or we are forced to take care of ourselves and our needs first of all. Need will never outstrip value – this truth is at the heart of higher education in every value-driven country.
So, why should Ukrainian education be supported? The answer is very simple: It is a symbol of the modern achievements of democracy around the world. This is the basis of modern society, when countries recognise and support each other at the international level through the interaction of different educational systems.
Picture of sunflowers by kieutruongphoto via Pixabay.