UNICEF reboots online learning for Ukrainian school children
Children in Ukraine’s Khersonska region have received tablets and laptops from UNICEF and partners, helping them to study amid the ongoing war
For the last year, Yevheniia’s three children have been sharing a single smartphone to do their schoolwork. They take turns to log onto their lessons, with the youngest, eight-year-old Hlib, signing on first, followed by 10-year-old Yehor and 11-year-old Tymofiy.
But now, they are among thousands of children to have received tablets and laptops from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and partners, making life a little easier at last.
Yevheniia and her family live in Ukraine’s Khersonska region, where the fighting and shelling has been ongoing since the full-scale war broke out in February 2022. With their local school still closed, her sons are thrilled to receive the new gadgets.
"From now on, I will see my teacher,” says Tymofiy. “There will be no need to write down the homework and wait until my brothers end their studies. And the battery charge lasts 12 hours! Moreover, the new tablet means new opportunities.”
Yevheniia is also grateful for the new tablets.
"I was worried about their eyesight, which had deteriorated due to small texts on the small screen,” she says. “The new tablets will make life easier for all of us.”
To deliver the 10,000 laptops and tablets to children in the Dnipropetrovska, Donetska, Zaporizhska, Luhanska, Mykolaivska, Kharkivska, Odesks, Poltavska, Sumska, Chernihivska, Kirovohradska, and Khersonska regions, UNICEF partnered with the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine. The supply was funded by the European Union (EU) and the Republic of Korea.
“The school has broken windows”
When the air raid siren sounds in Kherson, Yehor panics. The curly-haired boy hides his face in his hands and his brothers try to distract him with games. But if shelling begins, fear grips all three of them – they turn off the light, lie on the floor and cover themselves with a blanket.
"The school has broken windows. The bakery near the school is the most damaged. Our mom used to buy us delicious banana-filled buns there, and now it's burned down."
Because of the war, Yevheniia has lost her job. She cannot even work part-time because her sons are constantly at home and need attention and supervision.
"Sometimes, I am even afraid to go to the store to buy bread and leave them with their grandmother,” she says. “I don't have the money to move and rent an apartment in another city.”
It has been a fight to survive since the war first broke out.
"I sat down and talked to my sons,” recalls Yevheniia. “I explained to them that the war had started and, unfortunately, I could not buy them anything sweet or tasty. And they understood. I saw how difficult it was for them. But we survived it together.”
She hopes that the war will end soon, so the boys will be able to go to school, take dance lessons and play soccer with their friends. But for now, the brothers are forced to spend their days at home, studying or playing with dogs in the yard.
“Children truly need these tablets and laptops”
To receive the new tablets, the children visited their old school, which opened especially. Their favourite teacher, Tetiana, was overjoyed to see them.
"Many children have left because of the war, but many remain in the city. They all need education and communication, they all miss school. But unfortunately, not all families even have phones to study online. So our children truly need these tablets and laptops.”
The brothers are excited to tell their teacher about what they have decided they want to become when they grow up – a car mechanic, a gamer and a robotics developer.
"I'm waiting for you in the morning at class tomorrow,” promises Tetiana. “We will be able to see each other better through the new tablet.”
UNICEF has delivered 10,000 laptops and tablets to school children in Ukraine, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science. The equipment was procured and delivered with the support of the EU and the Republic of Korea. It consists of 5,000 tablets for primary school students and 5,000 laptops (Chromebooks) for middle and high school children. These will be distributed to educational institutions across the country.
The devices will also be distributed among children with disabilities, children from low-income families and those deprived of parental care.
Previously, UNICEF, together with the Ministry of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine, had distributed another 10,000 tablets and laptops to children in the Kharkivska and Khersonska regions.