Zoya Lytvyn, one of the 2019 WE Empower Awardees, is the founder of Novopecherska, a K-12 school that brings quality education to Ukraine’s children. Lytvyn’s mission is to create future change makers by helping its young students develop the necessary skills to succeed. The Novopecherska School provides a world-class education to its students and designs teaching courses that provide quality education in Ukraine’s school system. Overall, Lytvyn’s company is recognized by Microsoft as one of the 100 most innovative schools globally and has helped to change the lives of more than 4 million students in Ukraine.
Progress Towards the Sustainable Development SDGs
The Novopecherska School achieves SDG 4 Quality Education by modernizing school systems and creating “Ukrainian hearts and global minds” within each of its students. To support SDG 10 Reduced Inequity, the school provides scholarships for students in rural areas as well as training rural educators in more effective teaching methods. Cooperating with partners allows the organization to attain SDG 17 Partnerships to Achieve these SDGs by developing online teaching platforms, opening professional studios in orphanages, and creating a scholarship program to support its students.
Education in the Time of COVID-19
COVID-19 has dramatically impacted students’ access to quality education around the world. According to UNICEF, approximately 91.4% of pupils were affected by quarantine. This unprecedented time has created obstacles for students, and it has created unique challenges that have reduced access to quality education. Yet, even with these challenges, during the first two weeks of quarantine, Lytvyn and the teachers at Novopecherska School worked 18 hour days to ensure their students received a quality online education. Also, Lytvyn’s NGO Osvitoria, a leader in education development, worked tirelessly to give more than 100,000 teachers (about 25% of Ukraine’s teachers) educational webinars easing the transition to online education. These efforts embody what it means to be a social entrepreneur, as Lytvyn has strived for quality education and reduced inequality.
The National Video School helps 70 % of Ukraine students impacted by quarantine to receive a quality education by posting lessons on Youtube and National TV. This large project would not be possible without the efforts and facilities of the Novopecherska School, with teachers creating content day in and day out. Thanks to the hard work and long hours of this project, Osvitoria has provided approximately 3 million Ukrainian students with education during these difficult times.
Finding Inspiration in Chaos
While the changes that came with quarantine and COVID-19 presented difficulties to educators in Ukraine, Lytvyn believes that her team will be able to grow from this experience by creating a valuable and efficient online education system. Lytvyn credits the inspiring network of women at the WE Empower UN SDG Challenge for their support and their plethora of ideas that have made online learning possible. By finding inspiration in the chaos of COVID-19, Lytvyn has been able to further extend her efforts in pursuit of Novopecherska School’s SDG in creating quality education in Ukraine.