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 the 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 under the school safety program. A report that highlights the dramatic repercussions of this conflict on the life and future of children.

In the last week alone, two schools have been hit by attacks. Schools damaged or destroyed (15 out of 89) are part of the “safe schools” program set up by the Ministry of Education and Science, mainly in response to attacks that have hit kindergartens and schools in the Donbass region, where a conflict has raged ever since armed 2014.

Since the war began in February, reports indicate that hundreds of schools across the country have been hit by heavy artillery shells, air strikes and the use of other explosive devices in populated areas, while others have been converted to information or supply centers, shelters or are used for military purposes.

“The school year in Ukraine started with hope and promise for the children after the disruptions due to COVID-19,” said Murat Sahin, UNICEF representative in Ukraine. “Unfortunately hundreds of children have been killed and the end of this school year is marked by the closure of classes due to the war and the devastation of educational institutions. “

In times of crisis, school is essential for children, because it offers them a safe space and a semblance of normality in the most difficult times, preventing their future from being jeopardized by a learning deficit. Education can also save children’s lives by raising awareness of the deadly dangers of explosive devices and connecting them and their parents to essential health and psychosocial support services.

“For millions of children, the feeling of hope or despair sometimes hangs by a thread and access to education can make a 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 goal:

  • The online platform “All Ukraine 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 of primary education at 5And year of secondary education, it is used by around 80,000 internally displaced students.
  • In dozens of Kharkiv metro stations, UNICEF-backed volunteers have created spaces for children forced to seek refuge in these underground shelters to meet regularly with teachers, psychologists and sports coaches.
  • Episodes published on the new NUMO platform supported by UNICEF and the Ministry of Education and Science, which offers content for young children, are often viewed hundreds of thousands of times.
  • An awareness campaign on the danger of explosive devices, carried out 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 benefited from school supplies delivered by UNICEF to shelters, subway stations and other places hosting displaced children.
  • UNICEF supports governments and municipalities to integrate children who have fled Ukraine into national school systems, as well as other learning pathways, including online.

“Despite the horror of the war, considerable efforts have been made to ensure that children can continue their learning,” said Murat Sahin. “But the fighting must end to allow classrooms to be rebuilt and to ensure that schools are once again safe learning places 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 explosive devices in inhabited areas and prohibit any use of educational establishments for military purposes.

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Note to editors:

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

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