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UNICEF: Only third of Ukrainian children can attend schools in person

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk August 29, 2023 2:44 PM 2 min read
A former student of Chernihiv school No. 21 in the yard of his school destroyed by Russian bombs, is filmed in a video clip about the life of children in war conditions on June 21, 2023 in Chernihiv, Ukraine. (Photo by Zinchenko/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)
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United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) published a report on Aug. 28, calling attention to the fact that some Ukrainian children are facing their fourth year of online schooling ahead of the start of the new school year on Sep. 1.

Education in Ukraine was first disrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic and then the full-scale war.

Schools shut on Feb. 24, 2022, when Russia launched its invasion and many have not reopened due to the threat of Russian attacks.

As a result, a third of Ukrainian schoolchildren learn online. One third of children learn fully in-person, and another third learn in a hybrid approach.

About half of Ukrainian teachers believe there has been a decline in the language, reading, and mathematics skills of their students since then, according to UNICEF.

UNICEF cites the case of Viktoria, a 12-year-old girl living in Kherson, a place where schools teach exclusively online due to the constant threat of Russian attacks.

She is now one of three children left in her class, which numbered 33 before the outbreak of the full-scale invasion.

Since February 2022, over 3,500 educational institutions in Ukraine have been damaged or destroyed, UNICEF reported in July.

Most recently, on Aug. 23, a Russian attack drone struck a school in Romny, Sumy Oblast, killing four people and injuring four others.

The bodies of the school principal, deputy principal, secretary, and librarian were retrieved from under the rubble. They were in the building to prepare for the start of the school year.

Due to the necessity of online teaching, UNICEF said it has provided 20,000 tablets and laptops to Ukrainian schoolchildren thanks to funding from the European Union and South Korea. 30,000 more laptops will be distributed in the coming months.

Ukraine's Education Ministry is developing a course in cooperation with UNICEF on mine safety for Ukrainian schoolchildren, the ministry announced on Aug. 14.

The course will become a mandatory part of the curriculum.

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