The Educational Council of UCCA is the
central organ of the Saturday Schools of Ukrainian Studies. It provides
direction, control, information and textbooks for the schools under its
jurisdiction. In 1999-2000, it has 35 schools with 400 teachers
and 2,600 students under its supervision. The Educational Council was
organized in 1953 during a school Conference. These delegates from 22
schools decided to form a central body that would provide supervision
and give directions for the maintenance of the Ukrainian private school
system. The goal of the Ukrainian school became "the preservation by the
American Ukrainians of the Ukrainian language and the culture of their
forefathers. Thus they will become fully worthy citizens of their new
country the United States". The heyday of the Ukrainian schools were the
1960’s with 76 schools; students and 400 teachers. The first chairman of
the Educational Council was Prof. Edward Zharskyi, who served 1953-54.
He was followed by M. Kalyna (1954-61), E. Zharskyj again (1961-1977),
followed by R. Drazhniowskyj (1977-83), E. Fedorenko (1983-2016), G. Gajecky (2016-2019), and V. H. Bodnar from 2019 until
the present. The networks of Ukrainian Saturday schools stretch from
Boston, MA to Los Angeles, CA. Most of them have a program from
kindergarten to the eleventh grade, while five schools have K-12
program. The subjects taught stress heavily the Ukrainian language, both
spoken and written, literature, history, geography, culture. Religious
instructions is provided but its optional.
Children go to school from age 6 through
17. Every Saturday, during the school year, they are instructed from
9:00 AM to 1:00 or 1:30 PM in Ukrainian subjects. At the conclusion of
their studies, the students pass written and oral exams (the
matriculation) and are honored by the Ukrainian community at a special
banquet, sort of a "prom". The curriculum gives the students a solid
preparation in Ukrainian language and culture which allows them to
become leaders in the various civic political organizations. Over 30,000
young Ukrainians studied these schools and over 7,000 graduated. Now
many of them work in responsible positions here in the U.S. and also in
Ukraine, for various government organizations or American businesses.
Some states give the graduates of these schools college language credits
automatically or upon passing of a qualifying exam.
The schools of Ukrainian Studies are
currently held in facilities of daily parochial or public schools, which
allows for adequate classroom space, libraries and support facilities.
Teachers are mostly graduates of American universities who are professional
teachers or academic in everyday life. Recently, new teachers are recruited
from new emigrants that came from Ukraine since 1991. Among them are many
qualified teachers with Ukrainian University degrees and experience of
teaching in Ukrainian schools since independence 1991. Also, at present new
students of Saturday schools come from the ranks of new immigrants.
The whole program of the Ukrainian Studies is
planned for twelve years. About 33 Saturdays a year, with four and four and
a half hours of instruction a week, the student is exposed to 1,600 hours of
instruction in Ukrainian language, literature, history and culture.
Geography, religion, folklore singing and crafts are ancillary disciplines.
Also, the children are encouraged to participate in school festivals twice
or three times a year, where they recite poetry, sing songs, perform roles
and enjoy themselves. These schools are visited twice a year by inspectors
appointed by the Educational Council to supervise and control the program of
The activities of the schools are supported
by parents' groups and interested individuals in the Ukrainian community.
Support for the school comes from the fund raising activities that parents'
groups organize since tuition alone is inadequate to operate the schools. In
return, the schools participate in the cultural activities of the community,
cooperate with youth organizations and provide graduates for leading
positions in the community. Despite the presence of thousands of alumni in
the general public, the response of the community to the Ukrainian schools
is adequate, if not exactly overwhelming.
The preparation of textbooks and materials
for the use of these schools is another important aspect of the Educational
Council’s activities. In the first thirty years, over 80 textbooks were
prepared and 200,000 copies printed. In the last four years alone, twenty
textbooks were updated and reprinted. Also six new textbooks were published.
In addition, a series of ten abridged classics of Ukrainian literature were
approved and published.
Teacher training is an important task of the
Educational Council. Therefore, since 1985, a Teacher Seminar is organized
in the summer. It lasts for two weeks and is held at the comfortable resort
of the Ukrainian National Association at Kerhonkson, N.Y. There over twenty
teachers take part in lectures, seminars and talks which enhance their
knowledge of Ukrainian subjects. The lectures are given by academic and
invited guests from Ukraine. Several hundred teachers have already taken
advantage of these seminars and many of them became principals of their
schools in U.S. and Canada. Once a year Regional Teachers Conferences are
held. Biannually, National Conferences for teachers of Ukrainian schools are
The Educational Council publishes a journal
RIDNA SHKOLA three times a year, also a bi-monthly column in the leading
newspaper SVOBODA to inform the general public of the status of Saturday
schools and its own activities. Its members cooperate with the leading
educators in Ukraine and have sent thousands of textbooks to help design a
new Ukrainian schools system to educate democratic and free market oriented
citizens. Its present chairman Prof. Eugene Fedorenko has been elected
member of the Academy of Pedagogy in Ukraine as recognition for his work in
the Educational Council for the Ukrainian education throughout the world in
the U.S., the work of the Schools of Ukrainian Studies have been given high
marks. A former superintendent of the Chicago Public School System, Mr.
Hanrahan addressed a graduating class in Chicago with the following: "You
perform a useful task for the U.S. by learning your native language. In the
present time all Americans should learn another language for without another
language you are not truly complete. So, be an example for the rest of
American youth." The activities which the Educational Council continues to
perform benefit the school of Ukrainian Studies with its thousand of
students, they provide the Ukrainian community with intelligent graduates
and the United States in general benefits from a large pool of bilingual