Here’s how cash grants help Ukrainian children to keep learning during wartime
On a trip to the Chernihiv region of Ukraine, UNICEF staff see first-hand how cash grants empower schools to ensure continuous learning for children during wartime
Since the full-scale war in Ukraine broke out in February 2022, over 2,600 schools have been damaged and over more than 400 have been destroyed, according to the Ministry of Education. Children's access to education has also been hindered by power outages caused by attacks on critical infrastructure, cutting heating and water supplies, and plunging entire areas into darkness. In total, around 5.3 million children face barriers preventing them from obtaining an education in Ukraine, including 3.6 million children directly affected by school closures.
At the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), we are determined to help. Thanks to financial support from Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Spain, USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, and Vietnam, since October 2022, UNICEF has disbursed a total of nearly US$ 3.3 million to 1,087 schools that have been affected by the war in Ukraine, reaching more than 500,000 students. Through this mechanism, the money is transferred directly to schools to address the priority needs that have arisen due to the war.
So far, cash interventions have made a world of difference by addressing critical issues related to school materials and access to education. For example, some of the cash has been used to repair infrastructure to ensure children’s safety and protection.
It was a pleasure to visit two schools in the Chernihiv region recently. The schools are located in the towns of Oster and Kozelets, and they were so excited and happy to receive cash grants. In Kozelets, teachers, the director of the school and students were all so enthusiastic and optimistic about the future. A list of activities was prioritized, and the highest priority was determined to be access to appropriate handwashing facilities, which were no longer working at the school. As a result of the UNICEF-supported cash grant, the handwashing facilities were duly fixed.
Cash-based assistance not only reduces the gap between needs and resources, it also provides beneficiaries with more flexibility and dignity in meeting their needs.
“We find the cash grant to be very useful since it is very flexible, so we can use it as per our needs and priorities,” says Nataliia, the head of the school. “Students occasionally attend catch-up classes and extracurricular activities in the school, and these facilities facilitate access to basic school services. It is our hope that the war will cease soon and that we will be able to return to our normal lives.”
Olha, who teaches at the Oster school, is also grateful for UNICEF’s assistance, amidst a war that has devastated the lives of millions. The cash grant has enabled the school to procure necessary equipment, including generators, a heating system, interactive boards and projectors.
“We all face problems at home and with our families in this crisis, but it is our duty as teachers to support all children in our schools and we cannot leave them unsupported. It is important for our students to feel safe and supported during these uncertain times by having extracurricular activities and catch-up classes scheduled at our schools from time to time, in order to provide them with the support they need.”
UNICEF has supported access to formal and non-formal education for nearly 1.5 million children in Ukraine since February 2022, including early childhood education. Providing cash grants to schools to support education in Ukraine prioritizes the needs of students and teachers to continue learning, and empowers schools to identify gaps in their response and address them accordingly. Cash grants also facilitate community engagement by bringing together school principals, teachers, students and parents to discuss gaps and needs and agree on priorities for addressing them.
UNICEF will continue to work with partners to support children and families in Ukraine – and you can help us do this.