Ukraine: UNESCO mobilizes support for learning continuity
Paris – UNESCO is mobilizing support to maintain continuity of education and to help teachers and learners in Ukraine. Through its Global Education Coalition, the Organization will provide computer hardware and digital learning contents.
Since the start of the war in Ukraine, on 24 February, UNESCO has repeatedly called for respect for international humanitarian law to protect education.
“Education is a fundamental right that must be protected in every way possible. UNESCO demands the immediate cessation of all attacks against educational institutions, teachers and students. The Organization is also committed to finding solutions so that every child can continue their studies,” said Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO.
After one month of war, local authorities have reported that more than 733 educational institutions were damaged or destroyed. Furthermore, estimates suggest that more than half of the country’s estimated child population has been displaced.
Strengthening distance learning tools
In order to respond to the needs on the ground UNESCO is in permanent contact with the local authorities and all relevant partners to protect and restore education in the country, with a focus on distance learning.
“In line with UNESCO recommendations, Ukraine had an effective system in place in response to school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, through the All-Ukrainian School platform. We are working with the authorities to adapt it to new needs,” explained Stefania Giannini, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education.
With the strong support of the Global Education Coalition – created by UNESCO in 2020 to facilitate distance learning solutions during the pandemic – UNESCO will provide with its partners computer hardware for teachers to support online teaching and learning. The Organization will coordinate the production of new digital learning contents, focusing on the early grades, psycho-social support and teacher training.
UNESCO will also support the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine through the creation of a reliable and secure system that will facilitate the provision of online exams for the admission of students to universities, vocational and training institutions.
Enabling refugee students to continue their studies
UNESCO welcomes the initiatives taken by some of its Member States to host and integrate Ukrainian student refugees and international students formerly studying in Ukraine.
The Organization is mapping these initiatives and features them through a dedicated webpage on the UNESCO website. This is a tool to share best practices and to inspire all countries that want to support learners and teachers fleeing the war.
For example, in Poland, authorities are planning to create new educational and childcare centres for incoming Ukrainian children. The country also plans to facilitate the employment of Ukrainian citizens as teacher assistants. In Romania, some schools offer instruction in Ukrainian. In Latvia, according to a new law, Ukrainians have a right to work as teachers to teach refugee students under the age of 18.
Education data in Ukraine
According to UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics data, Ukraine’s total school-age population from pre-primary to tertiary education is over 6.84 million. This represents 1.05 million in pre-primary, 1.72 million and 2.54 million respectively at primary and secondary levels, and 1.53 million in tertiary education.
The country counts 15,500 preschool institutions; 14,000 primary and basic secondary schools; 695 vocational education institutions; and 336 higher education institutions.
Ukraine is also a hub for students from abroad at tertiary level, with a five-fold increase between 2001 and 2020 to 61,000 foreign students. The top five countries sending students to Ukraine in 2020 was India, Morocco, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Nigeria.