In Ukraine, the end of the school year is marked by tragedy, between the death of children, empty classrooms and the destruction of schools

KYIV/NEW YORK, May 4, 2022 – At least one of six UNICEF-supported schools in eastern Ukraine has been damaged or destroyed since the start of the war, including School 36 – the only school in Mariupol to be covered by the school security program. A report highlighting the dramatic impact of this conflict on children’s lives and futures.

In the past week alone, no fewer than two schools have been affected by attacks. The damaged or destroyed schools (15 out of 89) are covered by the Safe Schools Program set up by the Ministry of Education and Science, mainly in response to attacks on nurseries and schools in the Donbass region, where armed conflict has been raging ever since. 2014.

Since the war started in February, reports indicate that hundreds of schools across the country have been affected by heavy artillery fire, air raids and the use of other explosive devices in populated areas. , while others have been converted into information or supply centers, shelters or used for military purposes.

“The school year in Ukraine has started with hope and promise for children after disruptions caused by COVID-19,” said Murat Sahin, UNICEF representative in Ukraine. “Unfortunately, hundreds of children have died and the end of this school year will be marked by the closure of classes due to the war and the destruction of educational institutions. †

In times of crisis, school is essential for children as it provides them with a safe space and a semblance of normalcy in the most difficult times, while avoiding their futures being jeopardized by a learning disability. Education can also save children’s lives by raising awareness of the deadly dangers of explosives and connecting them and their parents to essential health and psychosocial support services.

“For millions of children, sometimes the feeling of hope or despair hangs by a thread, and access to education can make all the difference,” added Murat Sahin. “This is a crucial issue for their future and that of Ukraine as a whole. †

UNICEF and its partners are working to ensure that as many children as possible benefit from safe and appropriate learning opportunities. Several initiatives contribute to this objective:

  • The online platform “All Ukrainian Online Education Platform”, created by the Ministry of Education and Science with the support of UNICEF during the COVID-19 pandemic, and covering the entire Ukrainian school curriculum for students of the 5and year from primary school cycle to 5and year of secondary education, is used by some 80,000 internally displaced students.
  • At dozens of metro stations in Kharkiv, UNICEF-supported volunteers have created spaces for children forced to take refuge in these underground shelters to meet regularly with teachers, psychologists and sports coaches.
  • Episodes posted to the new NUMO platform supported by UNICEF and the Ministry of Education and Science, which provides content for young children, are often viewed hundreds of thousands of times.
  • An awareness campaign about the danger of explosives, launched by UNICEF in collaboration with the Ukrainian national emergency services and currently broadcast online, has reached more than eight million internet users.
  • Nearly 250,000 children have benefited from school supplies delivered by UNICEF to shelters, metro stations and other places where displaced children are hosted.
  • UNICEF supports governments and municipalities to integrate children who have fled Ukraine into national school systems and other learning pathways, including online.

“Despite the horrors of the war, significant efforts have been made to ensure that children can continue to learn,” said Murat Sahin. “But there must be an end to the battles to rebuild classrooms and ensure that schools once again become safe places to learn where children thrive. †

It is imperative to protect children and schools in accordance with international humanitarian law. As such, the parties to the conflict must take measures to avoid the use of explosives in populated areas and prohibit any use of educational institutions for military purposes.

Note for editors:

In 2019, Ukraine became the 100th country to sign the Safe Schools Declaration. It is a commitment to better protect students, teachers and schools, promote the continuation of education in times of war and take measures to prevent the use of schools for military purposes.

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