UNICEF helps Ukraine’s 2022 graduates forge a new future
While war has dashed the dreams of students, new study classes are giving them hope once more
Daria, 17, was one of hundreds of thousands of students in Ukraine who had been preparing to sit exams in their chosen subjects this summer. But war changed their lives – and futures – forever.
“The war turned my life upside down,” says Daria, a gymnast who recently graduated from school in Lutsk. “I wanted to study in Ukraine – Lviv or Kyiv – but now I’m afraid.”
Like many, Daria had been hoping to achieve good grades and enrol at university. Instead, this year, students will take a general multi-test, containing 60 questions on the history of Ukraine, the Ukrainian language and mathematics. Some, who have been displaced by the violence, will take the test miles from home and their loved ones.
To help students prepare for the multi-test, UNICEF and partners have launched online and offline training sessions. Students were be able to attend in-person classes on the Ukrainian language, the history of Ukraine and mathematics in seven cities across Ukraine.
Tetiana Morenchuk is one of the teachers who has signed up to help students learn about the history of Ukraine.
“I am a teacher who is always looking for adventures,” says Tetiana. “I want to help people.”
Tetiana teaches both local and internally displaced students at a school in Lutsk, Western Ukraine. She says they are all extremely motivated, even if not all of them had planned to take a history test.
“We don’t have much time to prepare, but it’s good that the test will only contain topics that the children studied in the tenth and eleventh grade,” she explains. “This is not too much to study.”
Working with this year’s school graduates is a sensitive task for Tetiana. She does not ask students to complete assignments on the internet, because she is not sure that all of her students have laptops or access to the internet. Nor does she push them too hard.
“I have no moral right to do that,” she says. “I can only use conversations, explanations and answers to questions. These children have grown up very quickly and have a special outlook.”
Seventeen-year-old Oleh has signed up for the UNICEF training courses in Lutsk. When the war broke out in February, he fled his home city of Kharkiv after ten days.
"After 24 February, I didn’t want to do anything at all. I stopped taking my enrolment at university responsibly and, after having moved to Lutsk, I did not do anything for another month. These courses are like a breath of fresh air.”
As well as studying for the multi-test course, Oleh also studies privately with tutors and plans to enter a university in Lviv or Kyiv. But he hopes one day to return to Kharkiv.
“I don’t want to go abroad, I am purposefully choosing Ukraine,” he says. “If I enter a university in Kyiv and everything goes well, I will be able to come to Kharkiv for holidays or later transfer to a university in Kharkiv.”
For Daria, whose hopes of studying in Lviv or Kyiv have been dashed by the war, the multi-test course is giving her the confidence to move forward again.
“These are interesting classes, and they try to find individual approach to each student there,” the youngster says. “After 24 February, I had no motivation to study, I didn’t want anything. Only in the middle of April did I start pulling myself together and return to studying, but our first conversations with the tutors were only about the war.”
In total, around some 400 students have attended the offline classes and the training webinars in three subjects have gathered over 1.3 million views in the run-up to the multitest.