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, including low quality learning, inadequate skills, high education spending that does not guarantee quality, and deteriorating public trust in education. Ukraine is now implementing a major education reform programme: The New Ukrainian School.
Attracting, retaining and training quality teachers, reforming the curriculum, particularly for children to acquire key life competencies and crosscutting skills), and investing in data collection are crucial parts of education reform.
Access to early learning remains problematic, particularly in rural areas. Recent government support for early learning reduced waiting lists for pre-schools but demand remains largely unmet: 40,000 children are currently waiting.
Many children with disabilities appear marginalized from mainstream education. The number of children registered with disabilities across Ukraine (153,547) is increasing despite the falling child population. Ukraine is still far from creating a barrier-free and inclusive environment, especially in pre-schools and rural communities.
Meanwhile, the conflict has further damaged the education system. In total, 737,000 schoolchildren and teachers in more than 3,500 education facilities face sustained personal, social and economic effects of the conflict, and 437,000 children and teachers learn and teach within 20 kilometres of the ‘contact line’. Conflict-affected children often face lack of learning space and learning materials, and insufficient qualified teachers with the skills to meet their psychological needs. Particularly vulnerable children include those with disabilities.
Fifty-eight education facilities were damaged in 2016-2018 and 65 closed in conflict-affected areas. 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 committed to linking humanitarian, recovery and development approaches, ensuring acute needs are met, and fostering resilience in affected communities, and self-recovery of displaced families.
UNICEF supports the Ministry of Education and Science’s (MoES’s) efforts to increase children’s access to early learning by creating inclusive quality environments in preschools in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Activities include building teacher capacity, raising parental awareness, developing children’s social and emotional competencies, and providing inclusive early childhood development supplies.
UNICEF is helping ensure in-service teachers have inclusion modules and has supported creation of 500 Inclusive Resource Centres (IRC) nationwide, to help educators include children with disabilities in regular classes. A comprehensive guide on IRC procedures was produced and disseminated, and an online course developed for national outreach.
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. UNICEF and the MoES have deployed on-line life skills education teacher training for 21,000 teachers nationwide, to reach 240,000 children.
With continuing UNICEF support, the Ukrainian Centre for Educational Quality Assessment and MoES developed a National Communication Strategy to support the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in Ukraine. This included a new website to communicate effective messages on PISA and education quality to teachers, students, media and policy-makers. UNICEF also supports cross-border school-based research: Health Behaviour in School-aged children (HBSC), European School Survey on Alcohol and other drugs (ESPAD) and Social Cohesion and Reconciliation Index among adolescents (SCORE).
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 is supporting the MoES to increase its capacity for data collection and management on out-of-school-children, dropouts and preventing school dropout and early school leaving. This includes profiling out-of-school children, improving statistical data collection on school-aged children, and developing a system flagging early warning signs of possible dropout.
In 2018, UNICEF’s education interventions reached 136,053 children and teachers in government and nongovernment-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 strengthened 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’.