One Step to Catastrophe. Why Kyiv Schools and Kindergartens are Overcrowded and What Happens Next

The population of Kyiv and the number of multi-storey residential buildings are growing, which is not the case with schools and kindergartens.

Kyiv needs 57 more schools and 70 kindergartens. At least 10 schools and 16 kindergartens in the capital must be put into operation every year, but this does not happen.

In the first article, we described the scale of the overcrowding of schools and kindergartens and how the needs for their construction is ignored. We provided a particular example, when 8 thousand apartments appeared in the Osokorky district without three planned schools and three kindergartens.

But this is not a problem of one district – all Kyiv residents suffer due to the lack of kindergartens and schools.

The second part is about how many schools and kindergartens Kyiv needs, how much their construction will cost, who should do this, how many children can effectively study in one class, what the government thinks about the problem, whether the developers are guilty and who is responsible for the looming crisis.

How many schools and kindergartens does Kyiv need?

The number of pupils in Kyiv’s schools is increasing 20 times faster than the number of places in schools. This is indicated by the data of the State Statistics Service.

Thus, the number of school students on average is annually growing by 10 thousand. Among them, about 5 thousand accounted for elementary school students. At the same time, the number of studying seats in schools increases by an average of 0.5 thousand.

“Today, our school accommodates 1,950 students with the capacity being 1,320,” says Georgy Bezhenar, director of the Slavic Gymnasium. In 2017, the number of schoolchildren was 1,847, and in 2016 – 1,748.

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In 2011 – 2016, the number of school pupils was growing 13 times faster than the number of studying seats: 62 thousand people against 4.7 thousand of newly-created studying seats.

The EP requested these and a number of other data in the Department of Education and Science of Kyiv. They confirmed the receipt of the request, but the state agency was not able to provide an answer within the time limits established by law.

In 2011 – 2016, a shortage of 57.3 thousand places emerged in Kyiv’s schools. If we consider that an average school is designed for 1 thousand pupils, then the capital was missing 57 schools back in that period.

In 2016, the occupancy rate of classes was 123%, with an absolute number of children in preschool educational institutions in Kyiv being 109,589. That is, to relieve the occupancy of groups in kindergartens at least to 100%, the city must create 20.6 thousand new places. This is about 70 kindergartens for 300 children each.

How much does it cost to build a school?

According to the calculations of the Ministry of Regional Development, the cost of creating one studying place at school was UAH 100 thousand in January 2018. Thus, the cost of construction of schools for 57.3 thousand training places is UAH 5.73 billion.

However, you may need much more, for example, UAH 23 billion, if you build each of 57 schools at a price of 400 thousand UAH for a studying seat.

This is how much money the city administration of Kyiv is paying the developer to construct the school No. 334. Its total cost was $ 15 million – four times more expensive compared to recommendations of the Ministry of Regional Development.

Alexandra Ustinova, board member of the Anti-Corruption Center, says that there are no such budgets for building schools, even in EU countries.

And if one is building a school on the basis of the ministry’s calculations, then, for example, at least one full-fledged school could be built instead of the future pedestrian bridge in Kyiv on Volodymyrska Hill.

Another important point: every year the number of school-age children in Kyiv is increasing by 10 thousand. This means that every year the city must build at least ten more schools, spending UAH 1-4 billion for this purpose.

According to the calculations of Ministry of Regional Development, the cost of creating one place in a kindergarten is UAH 127 thousand. This means that Kyiv should spend at least 2.6 billion UAH on construction of kindergartens. In addition, every year, the city must build another 2-16 kindergartens for 300 places for UAH 0.1-0.6 billion.

How many children should there be in a class?

According to children’s psychologist Anna Pokrovskaya, 30 people in a class is not normal. The perfect number is 14 people, but not more than 25.

“You are talking about 38 students in the class, and I’ve heard about 42. This is a lost child, a lone wolf. Imagine the pressure on his senses, the burden on hearing and visual systems. Such a child is not able to have a rest during a recess. They are surviving. We are not talking about the quality of studies,” Pokrovskaya says.

Overcrowding in elementary school leads to crises in teenage life, which cannot be helped. A teenager cannot be reformed, the psychologist says. Among the problems of the Ukrainian school, Pokrovskaya puts the problem of overcrowding to the first place.

What does the government do?

The government does not have an objective understanding of the problem of shortage of places in preschool institutions and is not able to fully implement its own decree to increase the number of places.

According to a Cabinet of Ministers’ plan, 9,105 seats should appear in Kyiv in kindergartens in the years 2017-2019. In 2017 – 3,500, in 2018 – 2,730, in 2019 – 2,875. The number of 9,105 places is two times less than the capital needs without taking into account population growth rates. In 2017, the number of places created in Kyiv was six times fewer than the Cabinet of Ministers had planned: only 635 appeared instead of 3,500.

What does this have to do with developers?

Developers are not required to build schools and kindergartens. This is the responsibility of Kyiv authorities. The participation of developers in the creation of social infrastructure is reduced to making one-time share contributions from each of their objects to the treasury. In 2018, the developers paid about UAH 0.5 billion in contributions. This is 10-20 times less than what is needed for construction of a number of schools and kindergartens that would meet the pace of residential development in the capital. Developers and the Cabinet of Ministers agree with this.

“These funds are not enough to create social infrastructure. Not a single hryvnia of the contribution was allocated for these purposes,” says Lev Partskhaladze, Deputy Minister of Regional Development, Construction and Housing and Communal Services.

Nevertheless, our paper sent a request to the five largest developers in Kyiv: UkrBud, KyivMiskBud, SDC Zhytlobud, Intergal-Bud, Stolytsia Group. Only UkrBud and Intergal-Bud provided their answers. In the request, the paper was asking why no schools and kindergartens appear near developers’ new housing complexes, and are the developers to blame?

A spokesman for UkrBud, Hlib Shemovnev, says builders are interested in building schools and kindergartens. In such cases the funds spent on infrastructure development are counted as a share contribution.

For the majority of developers it is more profitable to provide their employees with work and salary, than simply give away millions of hryvnias, which are then dissolved in the city budget. However, there are several peculiarities.

First, says Shemovnev, a kindergarten is not enough to build, it must be transferred to the city balance. To do this, the budget has to envisage funds for maintenance and management of an institution. That is, creation of children’s institutions should take place in close cooperation with the city.

Secondly, the press secretary continues, even when such interaction exists, this does not mean that the institution will be accepted into the city’s balance.

“Capital developers know cases, when the city authorities refused to accept objects constructed upon their order. As a result, developers had to turn such institutions into private ones and engage in non-core activities, ensuring their management,” Shemovnev explains.

Thirdly, the representative of “UkrBud” notes, the accounting of social infrastructure development as a share contribution is another headache of developers. Due to bureaucracy, this procedure can take six months or longer. Accordingly, commissioning of the main object gets delayed.

The Commercial Director of Intergal-Bud, Anna Layevska, says that the city builds almost no schools or kindergartens, while Intergal-Bud is trying to provide for kindergartens and early development centers in each of its residential complexes.

“Residents of our real estate may not worry about their children. Parents do not need to wait for years in educational institutions or drive children back and forth for several kilometers. This solves the problem of social tension due to the lack of kindergartens and schools in the areas of high-density development,” she says.

In 2017, the city administration of Kyiv was unable to take a kindergarten built by Intergal-Bud onto its balance. As the reason, the city administration said that it was unable to maintain the premises.

Why schools and kindergartens remain on paper

A developer gets a green light to construct residential buildings from the document called a “Detailed Territory Plan” (DTP) – a plan of a separate microdistrict of the city. Its development costs a lot. Earlier, DTP was ordered by developers, so they could influence where some objects will be located.

“A detailed plan of the territory determines its purpose. Whether there will be housing or commercial buildings, and where kindergartens and schools will be situated. A DTP contains calculations of how much population there is and how many people are to come, how much infrastructure is needed,” explains Ivan Mikulyak, an expert in the field of urban planning.

“Formally, a detailed plan of an area provides for a school, but it turns out that companies build up their neighborhoods, and the issues of the school are shifted to the neighbors,” Mikulyak explains.

Who is responsible for the shortage of schools and kindergartens

Schools and kindergartens in Kyiv should be built by the city administration at the expense of the capital’s budget. Kyiv City State Administration must take into account its development plans, location of residential construction and demographic features.

Officials may prohibit construction of multi-storey residential buildings, if they see that there are not enough places in schools and kindergartens.

According to the author, almost entire responsibility for the critical state of the system of preschool and school education in Kyiv lies with the mayor Vitaly Klitschko and his predecessors.

Klitschko has been the mayor of Kyiv for almost five years. Key power tools that allow him to influence the construction of the capital are focused his hands.

He appoints the Director of the Urban Planning and Architecture Department, Director of Land Resources Department, and Director of Education and Science Department of the KCSA. Klitschko is the leader of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, whose faction has a majority in the Kyiv Council.

The deputy of the Petro Poroshenko bloc, Alexander Mishchenko, heads the Kyiv City Council Commission on Urban Planning, Architecture and Land Use. In this commission, the deputies of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc also have a majority.

Finally, Klitschko directs the KCSA and Kyiv Council. In order to understand which authorities are responsible for the balanced construction of Kyiv in schools and kindergartens, our paper turned to Igor Divchur, an expert on local government issues.

What can be done?

According to Divchur, the crisis in the system of preschool and school education is caused by the lack of a balanced urban planning concept.

“When a detailed territory plan is developed, we do not have an sufficiently extensive explanatory campaign. Why there should be a house on this site, and a shopping center there, how this will solve the issues of schools and kindergartens,” the expert says.

In his opinion, the issue of providing for places in schools and kindergartens should be approached comprehensively. For example – through the mechanism of public-private partnership. This is the experience of the Netherlands and other Scandinavian countries.

There, the city authorities gather all the interested parties who agree on the rules of the game. This allows the construction industry to develop, and the city – to provide residents with places in schools and kindergartens.

For example, within the framework of one detailed territory plan, builders pay contributions to infrastructure development and local land taxes, and these funds are used to build schools and kindergartens.

Another option – the mechanism of public-private partnership applies in the development of DTPs. The city performs its administrative functions for the development of neighborhoods by approving detailed development plans, and the construction business invests in the construction of schools and kindergartens on communal land through public-private partnership agreements.

“District Education Department or the Capital Construction Department of the KCSA may be the customer of such development.

I think the construction business is ready to solve the issue of lack of kindergartens and schools through mutual participation linked to the territory of the construction site or through mechanisms of financing public-private partnerships,” Divchur says.

In this case, all schools and kindergartens built through the mechanism of public-private partnership, should be taken onto the balance of Kyiv, he says.

Source: https://www.epravda.com.ua/publications/2019/03/5/645780/

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