Young Ukrainians surprisingly optimistic about the future

Tuesday 30 June 2015

 

Young Ukrainians are surprisingly optimistic about the future of their country and about their right to express their own opinions and engage in social activism, but many are not yet convinced that traditional forms and institutions of democracy will provide the answer, says a new British Council report and survey published today.

‘Hopes, Fears and Dreams: The views of Ukraine’s next generation’ found that over half of young people in Kyiv and the west of Ukraine are optimistic about the future of their country, but not so in the east where a small majority think the future will be worse than before 2014.

While there is a strong belief in the value of protest – 80% felt that citizens had the right to express their views through protest and demonstrations - 66% felt that Ukraine did not need a parliament, but rather a ‘strong leader’, a finding which may reflect a widespread desire among the younger generation to see the past two decades’ legacy of entrenched corruption, stifling bureaucracy and inadequate social investment turned around.

The survey of 1,200 16 to 35 year-olds explored attitudes to education, democracy and dictatorship; protest and activism; and culture and studying English -  with the UK coming through strongly as the most favoured foreign education destination, ahead of the US, Germany and Poland.

The desire for accession to the EU continues to be relatively high at 54% of those polled, but is not universal.  Support for closer ties is strongest in the west (78%) and in Kyiv (61%). In the east, enthusiasm for joining Europe drops to just one in five. Support for union with Russia runs at 29% in the east (and only 11% nationally), with 40% in the east preferring that Ukraine is non-aligned.

The findings also provide strong evidence that undermine a popular misconception about linguistic and ethnic divides in the country. Only 11% saw bilingualism (Ukrainian and Russian) as a barrier to Ukraine’s development, against 69% who saw it as a positive factor for this. Almost half felt that Ukraine’s ethnic and religious diversity was an advantage for the country as against just 6% who saw this as a problem.

Simon Williams, British Council Country Director in Ukraine said:

‘Young Ukrainians – the country’s future leaders and influencers - see  the UK as a great place for realising their educational potential and expanding their cultural horizons. But this research also shows that the future success and stability of Ukraine depend on strengthening its civil society, reforming its education system, expanding the use of English and supporting the growth of modern skills needed for the economy, including in the cultural sector. The UK and the British Council can do a great deal to support all of this.’

Ukraine has a well-educated workforce, and clear drive and ambition amongst its young people. At the same time there is a lack of some of the skills and capacity needed in order to achieve reform and change, both in the public and private sectors, whether for improving public service provision, tackling corruption or growing business and the country’s economic output.

The report recommends that UK policy-makers and institutions should consider stepping up their engagement with Ukraine in the spheres of civil society, education – including English Language - and culture, recognising that these are crucial to furthering stability, an active civil society and economic development in the country.

Ukraine, Russia and the wider region are important for both the UK and the world, and are at a crossroads. There is a real opportunity for the UK to invest in, support and develop closer international partnerships with these countries.

One important way in which this can be achieved is through close and effective engagement with Ukrainian young people to support their English language, education, skills and employment prospects, to enable them to engage with all forms of culture, including from the UK and Europe. Through greater sharing of culture and education, the UK, Ukraine and Russia, and all the countries of their region, can together build collective prosperity, security and stronger international partnerships.

Notes to Editor

Read Hopes, Fears and Dreams: The views of Ukraine's next generation by Martin Dowle, Natasha Vasylyuk, Mona Lotten.

LAUNCH EVENT

Ukraine at a Crossroads, Tuesday 30 June, 17.00-18.00 in Committee Room G, House of Lords.

Speakers:

Mr Danylo Lubkivsky: Former First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

Mr Andrey Kurkov: Ukrainian writer and commentator. He is the author of many novels, including the bestselling Death and the Penguin. Last year he published Ukraine Diaries, a first-hand account of the ongoing crisis in his country.

Mr Simon Williams: Country Director Ukraine, British Council.

Lord Bach (Chair): Opposition spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Co-Chair of the British Council All Party Parliamentary Group.

METHODOLOGY

The survey was conducted during November-December 2014 by GFK and sampled 1,200 young people drawn from all parts of the country apart from Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk, which are territories not controlled by the Ukrainian government.  It was focused on young people aged 16-35 who were digitally engaged and online for more than 11 hours a week for non-business purposes.  The survey was supported by 30 in-depth interviews among the same population.

 The British Council in Ukraine

 The British Council has a long history of commitment to and partnership with Ukraine, as the first international cultural relations organisation to set up in the country in 1992, just one year after independence.

Our programmes are designed to meet the huge appetite for improved educational opportunities in general, and the demand for access to UK culture and English in particular, amongst Ukraine’s young people.

- We reached 4,5m people in Ukraine in 2014/15 through all our activities

- We teach English to up to 3,000 students a year

- More than 1,2 million Ukrainians use our free on-line English resources each year

-We administer up to 10,000 UK examinations across Ukraine each year

- More than 57,000 people experienced arts from the UK in 2014/15, while more than 700,000 listen to the weekly the “Selector” music programme on the radio in five cities across Ukraine.

The British Council is currently increasing its programmes in Ukraine across English, education and the arts, in partnership with other UK institutions and organisations, in response to the country’s current situation.

For more information, contact Nicola Norton on tel (+)44  074711 42442  or nicola.norton@britishcouncil.org

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide.

We work in more than 100 countries and our 8,000 staff – including 2,000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the arts and delivering education and society programmes.

We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publicly-funded grant provides 20 per cent of our turnover which last year was £864 million. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, such as English classes and taking UK examinations, and also through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and supports prosperity and security for the UK and globally. 

For more information, please visit: www.britishcouncil.org. You can also keep in touch with the British Council through http://twitter.com/britishcouncil and http://blog.britishcouncil.org/.