UNICEF Geneva Palais briefing note on the impact of the Ukraine war on children’s education

This is a summary of what was said by UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia Regina De Dominicis – to whom quoted text may be attributed - at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

29 August 2023
RD in Ukraine

GENEVA 29 August 2023 – “Attacks on schools have continued unabated throughout the war in Ukraine.

“Just last week teachers were among casualties of an attack on a civilian area in the city of Romny. The attack ripped through a school where teachers were preparing lessons for new school year. On the same day, a kindergarten in Kherson city was hit in another attack.

“These senseless and reckless attacks have left many of Ukraine’s children deeply distressed and without a safe space to learn.

“Just one in three schoolchildren in Ukraine are learning in person fulltime.

“As a result, children across Ukraine are showing signs of widespread learning loss, including a deterioration in learning outcomes of the Ukrainian language, reading and mathematics.

“This war is layering crisis upon crisis.

“It is leaving children grappling with mental health problems.

“It is denying millions a chance to be educated.

“The war in Ukraine has become a war on children. And yet when it ends, children and young people will be essential to the country’s recovery and future. This will require a workforce that is both highly educated and healthy. Tragically, with each successive indiscriminate attack on schools and on children, the realization of this critical necessity recedes. 

“Later this week, Ukraine’s school age children should go back to school. It will be the fourth consecutive year of disrupted schooling.

“I was in Ukraine last week, meeting teachers and schoolchildren who are bearing the mental scars of war, struggling to remember how to read and write, and do basic maths and struggling to cope in a country still at war. Indeed, with nearly a third of the country estimated to be unsafe due to mines, children’s most critical – and now mandatory – lesson today is how to avoid landmines and unexploded ordnance.  

“In response, UNICEF is supporting children’s mental health through counselling and psychosocial support, providing learning materials including those on mine safety, training teachers, and continuing to rehabilitate school shelters.

“For the millions of children who have fled Ukraine, more than half are not enrolled in national education systems in their host countries.

“Investing in education for Ukraine's children, no matter where they reside, is the best investment we can make in the country's future.” 

Media contacts

Georgina Diallo
UNICEF Europe and Central Asia
Tel: +41 76 320 68 14


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