Experiments, original problems, hand-drawn graphs in notebooks without a single point off – this isn’t class work, but the Ukrainian Olympics in physics, mathematics and computer science in Vinnytsya.
Hromadske went to Vinnytsya to learn about how this Olympics became the personal mission of one provincial teacher.
Yuriy Pasihov is a physics and computer science teacher at Specialized Gymnasium #17 in Vinnytsya. To his students he is simply "Pas". Twenty-four years ago he and his colleagues created the “Tournament of Champions.” It’s a particularly complex competition, which will also take place this year.
According to Yuriy, science isn’t valued in Ukraine today. His students work for major corporations and make scientific discoveries, albeit overseas, “I am a provincial teacher but now more than 150 of my former students have greater scientific knowledge and work in economies abroad,” he told Hromadske.
Yuriy’s students are also aware that opportunities for scientists are limited in Ukraine, “Considering that science in Ukraine is not well developed, I will probably have to work abroad,” said student Izrail Kymylnyk. “But if I can become very influential then maybe I can bring some technology back to Ukraine.”
For many years Yuriy Pasihov has been fighting with regional authorities for money to fund the tournament for the small percentage of children in Ukraine who still want to become physicists. According to the Ukrainian Centre for Education Quality Assessment, only 26 of this year's 240 thousand future graduates registered for independent testing in physics.
"The best thing we have is our children," Yuriy said. "That's why we have to give them a chance. If we are a country of idiots then they will not work in this country, but in other ones."
That being said, more than one student expressed an interest in helping to develop science in Ukraine. "It would be cool to develop experimental physics and an experimental physics laboratory," said student Mykhailo Bilokur, "That way talented young people can stay here and not go somewhere abroad."
/Reporting by Oleksandra Chernova & Oleksandr Popenko
/Translated by Eilish Hart