President Viktor Yushchenko on Thursday presented state awards to the nation’s top educators.

In his speech, the president said the government must developeducation and support teachers in Ukraine. “I am convinced there are two things thatwill determine Ukraine’s competitiveness: education and technologies. We must draw political conclusions so that the state should give more to education. This must become the nation’s priority number one,” he said, according to president's press office.

Speaking about strategic reforms in the system of education, Yushchenko said it was important to improve the quality of education and create what he calls a “kindergarten-school-university triad.” He urged the Education Ministry to revise its curriculums, computerize schools and build new educational facilities.

The president called onUkrainian teachers toteach their pupils to be patriots, adding that the country should benefit from its membership in the Bologna process and adapt its educational standards to those in the European Union. He said the introduction of independent testing at schools would help fight corruption and described it as a “good example of an honest and fair selection.”

Yushchenko pledged to support teachers, expressing hopes Ukraine’s new parliament and government will raise their salaries by 58% in 2008. He also suggested paying a 20% bonus to rural teachers and increasingstate benefits fororphans studying at universities.


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