Since the start of the war Prof. Jan van Zwieten, Rector of the Netherlands Business Academy provided help for Ukrainian people. As more and more Ukrainian families flee from Ukraine because of the war, in the beginning of March 2022 he started the initiative to organize school in Dordrecht for Ukrainian children who escaped from the russian aggression to the Netherlands. He wrote a report with his vision on how the children could be helped in the best possible way. The problem in this is that normally refugees and immigrants that come want to stay in the Netherlands. So the whole system is based on the integration by learning as fast as possible the Dutch language and Dutch culture. To his opinion this would not work in this case.
So, prof.van Zwieten formulated some conditions that should be met:
- We expect most children to go back to Ukraine, back to their fathers, in summer. So it is no use to spend 90% of the time on Dutch language and culture. The people from KROK University showed him the eLearning material – All-Ukrainian online school, provided by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine. All educational materials and handbooks can be uploaded, the timetable of the classes is available. This was perfect! With the system of MES of Ukraine it is possible to implement full program in Ukrainian language.
- The Schools in Holland are already overcrowded. There is a huge shortage on teachers and facilities. As the number of kids is quite large it is much better to keep them separated.
- A lot of highly educated people from several universities were willing to come to Dordrecht. They are perfect to mentor and teach the children with this material.
- The Dutch government has the obligation to provide good education, so there is enough money to pay the teachers and pay for the materials needed.
Prof Jan van Zwieten presented this vision to Mr. Peter Heijkoop, the vice-mayor of Dordrecht responsible for education. He ordered a meeting with three other coordinators at the City Hall. Also Mr. Louis Jongejans, future coordinator of the Ukrainian secondary school in Dordrecht for this project, was invited. In this meeting Jan van Zwieten presented Oksana Oliinyk, who flee to Dordrecht with her family, to be the coordinator for the Ukrainian refugees. She is alumnus of the Master Degree Program in Mediation at KROK University Business School, she already was in Dordrecht as trainee of mediation training for students, which was organized by NLBA in November 2021 in the frameworks of Erasmus+ project MEDIATS “Mediation: Training and Society Transformation”.
There were some main obstacles that came to the table in the meeting:
- The potential teachers do not have the diplomas that are compulsory in the Dutch law.
- The potential teachers do not have a Dutch identity number, bank account and declaration of good behaviour.
- There was no building available to execute the classes.
Prof van Zwieten offered the campus of Netherlands Business Academy with ten classrooms, enough for the expected 250 students. This was the boost that made the impossible happen. With great help of the City Hall and the schools the government agreed in dropping all formal demands. Only 10% of the curriculum is now about Dutch language. Oksana Oliinyk perfectly organized the educational process and at this moment 125 students, aged 12-17, visit Ukrainian secondary school, and every day more students join, even from faraway places. The project is such a success that it is now considered to be copied in many other regions.
The relation of NLBA to Ukraine is unique. Already in 1998 Jan van Zwieten met with Sergii Laptiev, rector of KROK University (Kyiv, Ukraine), and Mr. Taras Finikov (at that moment first vice-rector of KROK). Since that time the two universities always worked together and established several successful projects. At this moment NLBA coordinates 3 Erasmus+ projects – MEDIATS “Mediation: Training and Society Transformation” 2018-2022, INTERADIS “International Students Adaptation and Integration” 2020-2023 and CLIMAN “Synergy of educational, scientific, management and industrial components for climate management and climate change prevention” 2020-2023, where 12 Ukrainian universities are the partners. Among them partners that also have worked with NLBA now for more than ten years: Karazin Kharkiv National University and Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University.
We want to thank Dutch people and government for help and support of Ukraine! Especially Mr Peter Heijkoop (vice-mayor of Dordrecht), the coordinators of the City Hall; Serge Bomius, Martin Knijnenberg, mr. Frans Rutjes and mr. Lerry Overgaauw, the program coordinator on behalf of the schools in Dordrecht; Louis Jongejans and above all the staff of NLBA.
Together to victory! Glory to Ukraine!