Russia’s invasion disrupted five million Ukrainian children’s education: UNICEF

War ravaged Ukraine

More than five million children have had their schooling disrupted in 11 months of war between Russia and Ukraine, according to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

The agency on Tuesday said the conflict compounds two years of education lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic and almost a decade of war for children in the Donbas region, the east of the country.

Numerous schools, pre-schools, and other educational facilities across the nation have been damaged or destroyed due to the ongoing use of explosive weapons forcing several parents to keep their children at home because of worries about their safety.

Children have previously relied on technology to access online learning and community-based alternatives, with over 1.9 million children enrolled on online learning resources, and 1.3 million enrolled in programs that combined in-person and online instruction.

Still, the recent attacks on energy infrastructure have resulted in widespread blackouts. Every child in Ukraine now lacks consistent access to electricity, making it difficult for children to attend virtual classes.

Commemorating the International Day of Education on January 24, UNICEF called for increased support to ensure that learning continues for children in Ukraine and refugee-hosting communities.

UNICEF regional director for Europe and Central Asia, Afshan Khan, said that the impact of the war on children’s education could have lifelong consequences.

“Schools and early childhood education settings provide a crucial sense of structure and safety to children, and missing out on learning could have lifelong consequences,” Mr Khan said. “There is no pause button. It is not an option to simply postpone children’s education and come back to it once other priorities have been addressed without risking the future of an entire generation.”

Mr Khan added that the agency would continue to support Ukraine’s government in delivering solutions to help children in conflict areas and those displaced access education.

“UNICEF will continue working with the Government of Ukraine and the host countries’ Governments to deliver solutions to help children in conflict areas and those who have been displaced from their homes to continue their education,” he said.