Education programme

Making sure that all children in Ukraine, including children out-of-school, living with disabilities and in conflict-affected areas, can enjoy quality pre-school, primary and secondary education.




Ukraine’s education system faces longstanding challenges. These include low quality of learning and inadequate skills, a high level of spending on education that does not necessarily guarantee quality and deteriorating public trust in education. In this context, the country is implementing a major education reform programme: The New Ukrainian School.

Ukraine has serious geographical inequities in access to education. Between 2008 and 2013, 1,600 schools closed, including 1,300 rural schools. Demographic change has reduced pupil numbers by 9 per cent (thereby improving the student-to-teacher ratio), but education quality remains problematic. Meanwhile, 66 per cent of rural settlements with children under six lack pre-school services.

Many children with disabilities appear marginalized or left out of mainstream education. The number of children registered with disabilities across Ukraine (153,547) is increasing despite the falling child population. Despite steps towards inclusion, Ukraine is still far from creating a barrier-free and inclusive environment, especially at pre-schools and in rural communities. In 2018, the Government launched national education sector reform to promote inclusive education and a new child-centred model of education.

On top of the ongoing challenges to education in Ukraine, the conflict has further damaged the education system and infrastructure. In total, 737,000 schoolchildren and teachers in more than 3,500 education facilities face sustained personal, social and economic effects of the conflict, while 437,000 children and teachers learn and teach within 20 kilometres of the ‘contact line. Conflict-affected children face multiple supply- and demand-side barriers to schooling and quality learning, including lack of learning space and learning materials, and insufficient qualified teachers with the skills to meet pupils’ psychological needs. Many of the children are particularly vulnerable, including children with disabilities.

Meanwhile, 58 education facilities were damaged in 2016-2018 and 65 have closed in conflict-affected areas.  Of 920 schools in government-controlled conflict-affected areas, 84 per cent require rehabilitation, such as repairs of windows, water systems and toilets. Many schools struggle to cope with winter cold due to antiquated or non-functioning heating systems or insufficient resources for fuel. One in three schools within 20 kilometres of the ‘contact line’ reported conflict-related safety concerns, including military presence nearby and unexploded ordnance. This leads to trauma and emotional distress.

UNICEF is particularly committed to linking humanitarian, recovery and development approaches and activities, to ensure acute needs are met, whilst fostering the resilience of affected communities, and self-recovery of displaced families.



UNICEF is supporting on-going education reforms to improve all children’s learning outcomes, including conflict-affected children. The reforms will ensure that learning opportunities begin in early childhood and all children have the knowledge and skills they need to thrive.

Quality of education

UNICEF and the Government are modelling the ‘Safe School Concept’ in 14 educational facilities to increase child safety, and applying new, student-centred teaching methodologies, building life skills including civic engagement. Life Skills Education now features in the ‘New Ukrainian School’ reform agenda. UNICEF and the MoES have deployed on-line Life Skills Education teacher training for 21,000 teacher nationwide, to reach 240,000 children.


UNICEF is working to ensure in-service teachers have inclusion modules and has supported the creation of 500 Inclusive Resource Centres (IRC) nationwide, to help educators include children with special needs in regular classes. A comprehensive guide on IRC procedures was produced and disseminated, and an online course developed for national outreach.


To foster youth engagement and participation, UNICEF is supporting the Government to develop the 2020-2025 national youth strategy and participation model. Also, 8,800 children benefitted from civic engagement and resilience building and 20,137 children from improved meaningful participation in decision making at local level through UNICEF programmes to increase employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for marginalized and at-risk young people (UPSHIFT), and to engage young people in innovative opinion monitoring using smartphones (U-Report). UNICEF works with government, civil society and youth to ensure that young people’s opinions are amplified and influence decision-making process on matters directly affecting them.     

Conflict response

In 2018, UNICEF’s education interventions reached 136,053 children and teachers in government and non-government controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. This includes providing educational supplies, winter clothing and kindergarten seats and emergency repairs. Also, 4,625 teachers were trained on life-skills education on-line and face-to-face, and then used the knowledge and tools provided to integrate life skills learning into the curriculum, reaching 95,096 children in government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

Through continued leadership of the Education Cluster, UNICEF focused on strengthening coordination with actors on both sides of the ‘contact line’. The Cluster supported the introduction of Conflict-Sensitive Education (CSE) in 2018, delivering on a plan to instil local knowledge on and create CSE champions for Ukraine. The CSE capacity development programme targeted national and local authorities and education actors working close to the ‘contact line’.