STORY: Widespread learning loss for Ukraine’s children - UNICEF
DURATION (TRT): 1’48”
SOURCE: UNTV CH
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH, NATS
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 29 August 2023, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
FORMAT: HYBRID PRESS BRIEFING
Unabated attacks on schools have left many Ukrainian school children without a safe space to learn - UNICEF
Many of Ukraine’s 6.7 million children between the ages of three and 18 will be missing out again on their education when the new school year starts later this week amid "relentless" Russian attacks on schools, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday.
“Attacks on schools have continued unabated throughout the war in Ukraine. Just last week, teachers were among casualties of an attack on a civilian area in the city of Romny. The attack ripped through a school where teachers were preparing lessons for the new academic year,” said Regina de Dominicis, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia when briefing reporters at the United Nations in Geneva.
For Ms. de Dominicis “the war in Ukraine has become a war on children, and yet when it ends, children and young people will be essential to the country’s recovery and future.”
“These senseless and reckless attacks have left many Ukrainian children deeply distressed and without a safe place to learn,” said UNICEF’s Regional Director. “Just one in three schoolchildren in Ukraine are learning in person full time. We know that three quarters of children of preschool age in frontline areas are not attending kindergarten.”
As a result, children in Ukraine are showing signs of widespread learning loss, UNICEF said. Russia's full-scale invasion of the country in February 2022, preceded by the COVID-19 pandemic, have left students facing a fourth year of disruption to education.
According to Regina de Dominicis, “more than 1,300 schools have been totally destroyed and there are others that have been heavily damaged and are therefore not ready to be reopened for the academic year.”
Latest survey data showed that up to 57 per cent of teachers reported a deterioration in students’ Ukrainian language abilities, up to 45 per cent reported a reduction in mathematics skills, and up to 52 per cent reported a decrease in foreign language abilities.
UNICEF also pointed out that more than half of the millions of children who have fled Ukraine are not enrolled in national education systems in their host countries at the beginning of this school year.
Among the refugees, pre-schoolers and secondary-age students are the most likely to miss out on their education. Language barriers, difficulty in accessing school, and overstretched education systems are among the reasons for low enrolment rates.
According to UNICEF, refugee children who are not enrolled in local schools are likely attempting to study online, either via the Ukrainian curriculum or through other distance learning platforms. Some of them may have completely abandoned their education.
Throughout the crisis, UNICEF has been supporting children’s mental health through counselling and psychosocial support, provides learning materials including those on mine safety, and rehabilitating school shelters.
“Our priority is the rehabilitation of school shelters from kindergarten to primary, exactly to fight against this bottleneck of security and safety," said Regina de Dominicis. She added that she had visited a number of such shelters and was "amazed" at how well they were organized. "The children know exactly that if there is a bomb alarm they need to quickly go down,” she said.