Ukraine’s recovery is dependent on the recovery of children’s education

Statement by Regina De Dominicis, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia

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Ukraine’s recovery is dependent on the recovery of children’s education

GENEVA, 12 June 2024 – “The war in Ukraine is destroying the country’s greatest resource – its people. Without an increase in investment and sustained funding, children and young people will not be able access school and training opportunities – critical for the recovery of children, families and their communities.

“Because of COVID-19 and the war, schooling for Ukraine’s children has been disrupted for more than four years—the same length of time as an entire primary education in Ukraine. Around four million children across the country continue to have their education disrupted, with approximately 600,000 schoolchildren unable to access in-person school at all.

“Latest available data from 2022 show that children in Ukraine are around two years behind in reading, a year behind in maths, and half a year behind in science. With the persistence of hostilities since, that gap has only widened.

“More than one in ten learning facilities have been damaged by the war, and more than one in five have had to shut due to insufficient bomb shelter access. A significant amount of funding is needed to rebuild the sector, which overshadows the available resources.

“The situation for children living as refugees in neighbouring countries is also dire. Around half of Ukrainian refugee children—nearly one million—aren’t currently enrolled in their host countries’ schools. While many access Ukrainian education online, they miss social interaction with peers.

“This immense loss can be recovered. As world leaders gathered this week in Berlin for the Ukraine Recovery Conference, they should be reminded that rebuilding schools is only the first step. We must put children, including their education and security, at the heart of the plans for Ukraine’s recovery.

“This means investing in the education sector from the early years through to upper secondary. It means supporting learning recovery—particularly in foundational subjects like maths, reading, and science—as well as in those skills which are essential for success in their career paths.

“Investing in education and skills now minimizes the negative long-term effects of war and displacement for Ukraine’s children and adolescents. It will help build Ukraine’s human capital by preparing them to become part of their country’s future recovery efforts.

“Above all, however, Ukraine’s children must be protected from further harm—harm to their future prospects, their education, their safety, and their mental health. This means an immediate end to the war.”

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