At the meeting of the Trade Union Committee: Frankly About the Important

The trade union committe of Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, which took place on September 8, resolved several issues at the meeting.  The first agenda item was the most urgent issue concerning the beginning of a new academic year: “The organization of the educational process at the university under quarantine”.  The second is but no less important issue to discuss was the university funding for 2020/2021.  In addition to this, the organization of recreational measures for trade union members during the quarantine were considered and summed up the results of this year's health recreation season.

It is obvious that the first agenda item was discussed extensively, as for the pandemic situation, the current academic year radically differs from what we all used to.  Mykhailo Bezuhlyi, Chairman of the Trade Union Committee, spoke about its main differences at the opening of the meeting. He then handed over to Vice-rector of the University Yurii Yakymenko, who informed the participants of the meeting about the details of the educational process under quarantine.

The Vice-rector said that students of 2-6 courses will continue to study distantly, but first-year students will study in a mixed mode.  That is, part of the classes for freshmen are distant, while laboratory and practical classes - in laboratories.  The main danger for students is not in laboratories, where they can organize their learning process and follow preventive epidemic rules, but in dormitories.  Therefore, a mixed mode is organized in such a way that a distance and a full-time learning will alternate. For example, a group of freshmen arrives on Monday. They get acquainted with the university, teachers, receive student IDs, payment cards, accommodation orders in dormitories. Classes take place from Tuesday to Thursday - 8 subjects (9 academic hours).  After that, the group vacates these places and continues distance learning, while another group settles in dormitories.

Yurii Yakymenko also answered teachers' questions concerning the organization of the educational process under quarantine.  The questions were different, sometimes quite burning and incorrect.

So to the first, ‘Must teachers do work which is out of teacher’s workload and not confirmed in an individual teacher plan?’ he answered that an individual educational plan (IEP) with irregular working hours is a document, which gives a record of teacher’s work.  Thus, the IEP should show tasks performed by a teacher.  When, on the Rector order, the university made transition to a distance learning under quarantine, the individual curricula accordingly changed.  ‘A remote work mode of a budgetary state organization is a very responsible work,’ Yurii Yakymenko noted. ‘Therefore, each manager, signing a score card, is responsible for work of each employee. As for work of teachers, a distance mode is not a distance form of learning.  We are talking about a full-fledged educational process on schedule, implementation of all forms of classes, implementation of all forms of control (certification, exams, tests and defenses, etc.).  Working remotely, a teacher should use all forms of learning: lectures, seminars, tests, and not forget communicate with students.’ The Vice-rector also reminded that among 1,200 students there was conducted a survey on the quality of a distance learning and the work of teachers and stressed that such surveys will be conducted later on as they help improve the quality of distance learning, which should not just turn into a posting lectures or educational materials in MOODLE.  There must be a full-fledged distance learning process, said the Vice-rector: a student must learn, and a teacher must work out his/her load and be ready to respond to contemporary challenges.  Yurii Yakymenko also informed that on preparing for remote classes teachers can use audio and video materials. Three university structures are ready to help them: the Media Laboratory, the Department of Technical Teaching Aids (although it has very limited resources, but no one is denied) and the Design Bureau of information systems. In addition, the IPE recruits students for free courses (training in MOODLE) at the university expense.

Another question that interested teachers was if it was necessary to create distance courses for disciplines in the speciality which Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute didn’t take students in anymore and then only a few were studying.

‘There must be a compromise: on the one hand, those students who are completing the course should have it to attend,’ Yurii Yakymenko answered. ‘So it must exist.  On the other hand, a demand to start a course on a full-time basis is not worth it, because we do everything for the benefit of the university, and therefore, we must rely on faculties and departments.’

When asked why to develop distance learning courses for masters of science, where there was mostly one person in the department, he replied that no one required it, because we had elective courses. Therefore, according to individual plans, you could use ready-made courses in particular disciplines (especially English-speaking) from Western sources.

The next question-suggestions was spoken with irritation, ‘There is no any discipline 2020/2021 on the “Electronic campus”, the “Sikorsky” platform does not work, the regulations to Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute distance learning are impossible to deliver on, and God knows when it will become possible.  Teachers use other programmes and technologies.  My proposal is to cancel the requirements for the “EC” and “Sikorsky” platforms because the administration did not prepare them in time.’  However, Yurii Ivanovych’s answer was quite balanced and convincing, ‘Indeed, there is no any discipline 2020/2021 on the “Electronic campus” (on September 8, on the day of the meeting - ed.), as orders on curricula were submitted by some departments late and had some errors which slowed down our work… Everything will be downloaded, but shifted in time.  Courses have already been updated on the platform “Sikorsky”, and by the end of the week everything will be downloaded on the ”E-campus” (teachers’ workload and so on).  On September 15 the “E-campus” platform will enter service.’

The last question was more like a not-so-fair angry rant, ‘I wonder how many full-fledged distance courses with video lessons the university department heads have created. Enter the platform “Sikorsky” and you will see - none. Unless you can set an example - do not demand it from others.’

‘If you think that the university administration has nothing to do but create distance courses, [you are wrong],’ said Yurii Yakymenko. ‘We can create courses and I'm ready to swap places with anyone of you.  We have held world-class conferences in a distance mode, in which 28 countries took part - 120 participants, 2 plenary meetings, etc. The university administration receives its salary according to his/her job responsibilities.  Lecturing is not included, although, at the same time, we all know how to do it and can do it.  That's a little bit provocative question.  We would like teachers who have desire and time to set examples of creating courses. It is their main job.  No official (the Rector, the Vice-rector, deans) works part-time as a teacher.’

The second issue on the agenda was presented by Chairman of the Trade union committee Mykhailo Bezuhlyi.  He informed the meeting participants about a gradual increase in employees’ wages from 01.09.20, 01.01.21 and 01.06.22 and government regulations governing this increase, and reported that until the implementation of the wages increase health benefits for training and technical staff will be suspended.

Deputy Chairman of the trade union committee Oleksandr Sheiko reported on the third issue - the organization of health measures under quarantine.  It mainly referred to organizing a visit to the pool at the Department of Physical Education and Sports at Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute during the quarantine.  If an employee, a member of the university trade union wants to visit the pool, the heads of the trade union departments must make a list of members of the physical training team of the department according to the form, a sample of which is posted on the website of the trade union.  The list is given to the department of the pool once a quarter (i.e., in 2020 - it is the 4th quarter) until the 30th day of the month (i.e., until 30.09).  There are 12 visits per quarter. When visiting the pool, an employee must show an Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute employee card, which is a pass, at the same time.  Director of the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute Sports Complex Andrii Gavrushkevych also spoke on this issue - he told about visit hours and work of other sections.  In addition, he also requested, if possible, to visit the pool during the working day, when it is almost free. 

Head of the Department of Property and Social Affairs S.A.Manziuk reported on the results of this year's health recreation season, which was in difficult quarantine conditions.  Owing to uncertainty of the pandemic course and possible additional preventive measures in late spring even preparations began late - only on May 25.  That is why, all contracts and permits were urgently issued.  However, the recreation centres opened, and the arrival date was according to the plan on June 29, 2020.  However, the first session vacationers in the recreational centre “Maiak” weren’t fed, but later the centres provided balanced 3-time meals.

S.A.Manziuk also told that in the recreational centre “Maiak” rooms have been partially redecorated, pipes, taps, sockets, etc. have been replaced, and new sunshades have been installed on the beach.  The roof of the administrative building of the health recreation complex “Politechnik” and the roof in the gazebos have been repaired.  Unfortunately, the quarantine and lack of preparation for the health recreation season has stopped most of the work.

Nevertheless, the health recreation season was generally successful and the occupancy rate exceeded the expected results by 50%.  In “Maiak”, it was 69%.  126 employees got discounted vouchers, and 65 children and grandchildren improved their health with them.  437 student vouchers were also sold.  A total of 138 employees and students (including 34 vouchers) have visited the health recreation complex “Sosnovyi”. 430 university employees and students (including 14 vouchers) have visited the health recreation complex “Politechnik”

According to the recommendations of the Ministry of Healthcare of Ukraine at the recreation centers a regular surface cleanup, an employees’ and vacationers’ temperature screening were carried out, they were provided with antiseptics, and social distance was monitored.  As a result, no cases of COVID-19 have been reported.

Finally, Mykhailo Bezuhlyi reported on some innovations in the registration of financial assistance from the trade union committee: now employees-members of the trade union are able to receive it on a card account.

The application form for financial assistance is posted on the website of the committee.

Based on the trade union committee of Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute