Review Of EU’s Role To Rebuild Ukraine’s Education System – OpEd

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The relationship between war and education is complicated and has many distinct perspectives. War often has a negative effects on education, but the same can also help to stop wars, lessen their effects, and promote peace. The Russo-Ukraine War had a significant impacts on Ukraine’s education system, resulting in an educational crisis that touched the lives of millions of students and teachers throughout the country. Students and teachers were displaced. The educational infrastructure has been destroyed, and the educational system has been paralyzed, all of which have contributed to the educational crisis, making it impossible for students to access education and teachers to give quality education. The EU can take action to ameliorate Ukraine’s educational crisis, ensuring that future generations have access to great educational opportunities. 

Ukraine’s Education System

Ukraine’s educational system is organised into numerous levels: preschool, primary, secondary, vocational, higher, and postgraduate. Preschool education is available in Ukraine for children aged 2 to 6. Primary school begins at the age of six and lasts four years. Secondary education is organised into two levels: primary (grades 5-9) and secondary (grades 10-12). Following completion of basic education, students have the option of attending vocational institutions.

The primary objective of general schooling is to provide younger pupils with knowledge of the arts and sciences and to educate them how to use education practically. The Ukrainian language, literature, a foreign language, global literature, Ukrainian history, world history, geography, algebra, geometry, biology, chemistry, physics, physical education, music, and art are all part of the middle school curriculum. Students in some schools also attend environmental and civics studies. Activities like as chess, karate, theatre, studying folktales and folk melodies, chorus, and band are all part of the school day. Students may also get music lessons, football, hockey, or tennis lessons after school.

Universities and colleges in Ukraine provide a variety of degree programmes, such as Bachelor, Master, and Doctoral degrees. The engineering, medical, and mathematics programmes of Ukrainian institutions are renowned for their excellence. Ukrainian is the language of instruction in most schools and institutions in Ukraine, while instruction in other languages like Russian, English, and German is also available.

In an effort to improve the overall quality of the Ukrainian educational system and bring it in line with European standards, several reforms have been put into place in recent years. As part of these measures, the curriculum, teacher preparation programmes, and evaluation techniques are all being updated. The comprehensive educational system in Ukraine offers students a wide range of studying opportunities. However, there are still issues that need to be resolved, such as inadequate funding and outmoded teaching methods.

When War Meets Education

The links between war and education is complicated. On the one hand, war can have a major impacts on education by destroying or disrupting educational infrastructures and resources and by making it difficult for children and adults to get an education. On the other hand, education can also help to stop and lessen the effects of war, change how people feel about conflict, and promote peace. During a war, armed forces may try to destroy schools and universities by bombing them or doing other violent things. Teachers and students could also be displaced, hurt, or killed, which would make it harder to sustain the education. Education can sometimes be used as a form of propaganda, with curricula and textbooks made to promote a certain political or ideological point of view.

Education can also help stop wars and promote peace. By giving people access to good education, they may learn to think critically, have empathy, and understand different points of view. This can help reduce tensions and stop violence. Human rights, social justice, and equality are also important parts of building peaceful societies, and education can help in the promotion of the same. Education can also help rebuild after a war by training teachers, rebuilding schools and educational infrastructure, and giving people who have been displaced or affected by conflict the chance to go to school or get job training.

Russo-Ukraine War Impacts on Education

Russia expressed concerns about NATO’s growing interference and power in Ukraine and to counter the same, Russia started stationing  its military along its borders with Ukraine, Belarus etc.  since 2021. But the Russian government has repeatedly denied rumours that it is planning to invade Ukraine (Taylor, Adam. 24 February 2022). President Vladimir Putin argued that Russia did not like the idea of NATO’s geopolitical expansion and Ukraine shouldn’t be allowed to join. In order to check the geopolitical expansion of the towards East, Putin announced a “special military operation” on 24 February 2023  to “demilitarise and denazify” Ukraine (Waxman, Olivia B.: 3 March 2022). As a result of the above event, missiles and airstrikes were fired at several cities in Ukraine. The majority of the countries, regional and international organizations criticized the Russian invasion because it constituted an act of war. The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution requiring Russia to withdraw all of its troops from the region. Due to its invasion of Ukraine, Russia was also expelled from the Council of Europe, and the International Court of Justice ordered Russia to cease military operations. 

The effects of war on Ukraine are multiple and far-reaching. It is seriously affecting the politics, security, economy,  healthcare and education system of the country. The conflict could cause political instability that could make it harder for Ukraine to manage its educational system effectively. Millions Ukrainian people have been displaced because of war, resulting into the humanitarian crisis. Roads, bridges, residential and educational buildings, as well as other parts of the infrastructure have been damaged and destroyed, and it is estimated that the cost of rebuilding would be very high. 

Ukraine has suffered major socioeconomic effects as a result of the Russian attack. The ongoing conflict has also destroyed infrastructure, including industries, hospitals, and schools, as well as other public buildings. The conflict has had a profound psychological impact on Ukrainians, with many developing PTSD and other mental health difficulties as a result of the violence and trauma they have endured. The disruption of trade and commerce sent the shockwaves through the national economy, causing people to lose their jobs. The prolonged conflict has had significant consequences on the Ukrainian economy, causing GDP to fall, the currency to depreciate, and inflation to rise. People are compelled to seek asylum in EU because they have lost their homes, property, and means of support.

Educational system has been going well in the Ukraine. However, with the beginning of Russian invasion over Ukraine on February 24, the latter is being targeted by the Russian airstrikes and missile attacks that were launched in several cities, including Kyiv. A large ground invasion that took place on several fronts quickly followed this. This ongoing conflict had left indelible socio-economic facets of life. 

Educational Crisis of Ukraine

Due to the ongoing conflict, all aspects of the Ukrainian education has affected. The war has resulted into the displacement of students and teachers; disruption in the educational system, destruction of the education infrastructures etc. Millions of people have been displaced as a result of the conflict, including youngsters and teachers. According to the United Nations, approximately 1.5 million people had been internally displaced in Ukraine as of January 2022 as a result of the conflict. As a result, schools in conflict-affected areas have been closed, leaving thousands of pupils without access to education.

So far, Russian strikes have damaged or destroyed more than 2,800 schools, which affects 5.7 million school-aged children.  Online education doesn’t always work because people don’t always have enough power or access to the right IT equipment. More than 6 million Ukrainians have fled to neighbouring countries because of the war in their country. About 665,000 students (16 percent of all students) and over 25,000 the teachers (6 percent of all educators) are a part of the displacements Another 8 million Ukrainians have moved around within their own country (UNHCR and IOM, 2022). The majority of refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) are women, children, and older people. 

Disruptions to schools as a result of Russo-Ukraine war have long-lasting consequences for students’ ability to learn because they affected every aspect of their educational experience. This includes less time spent on learning, a decline in the quality of instruction delivered via remote/online modalities, and a reduction in the amount of material taught. Estimates of learning losses due to the Russian invasion suggest that learning outcomes are now below the lowest-performing countries in Europe, whereas before the pandemic. Learning losses in Ukraine are being compounded by the ongoing closure of schools. Covid-19 caused 31 weeks (nearly 8 months) of school closures or disruptions in Ukraine, causing an estimated 20 PISA points’ worth of lost learning.

Role of the EU for the Ukrainian Education

EU Cohesion Funds, Erasmus+, and the European Solidarity Corps provide financial assistance for educational institutions, vocational training, and early childhood care and education within the eTwinning network. The European Commission is providing access to learning material in Ukrainian and offering online resources and courses for teachers through the School Education Gateway coordinating an EU Education Solidarity Group for Ukraine to identify the needs of Ukrainian children and support Member States that host them. The European Training Foundation has created a hub of resources with details on how people who have fled Ukraine can continue their education or access it there, have their credentials recognised for work or study, and locate employment opportunities (European Commission, n.d.). 

The European Commission and the Government of Ukraine have signed a €100 million support package for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of educational facilities damaged as a consequence of Russia’s full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine, when President von der Leyen’s announcement in her 2022 State of the Union Address. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) together disbursed €14 million and €20 million, respectively, for humanitarian purposes. Light and medium repairs, such as those to windows, roofs, doors, sanitation and heating facilities, and the provision of classroom equipment in learning spaces and bomb shelters, will be the primary focus of this aid. Out of a €100 million support package, €66 million is set to be allocated as direct budgetary assistance to the government of Ukraine. European Union funds totaling about €14 million have been set aside from an existing agreement with the Polish Development Bank “Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego” to buy 220 school buses for Ukrainian school children. 

Since the war, the EU has provided emergency education aid to Ukraine. This support promotes safe, high-quality education for crisis-affected children to prevent and reduce disruption. Our humanitarian partners provide materials, supplies, and teacher capacity building, providing psycho-social support and life-saving messages to children and education staff. EU humanitarian aid funds light and medium school repairs and digital learning centres. The EU’s Crisis Response Actions have supported Ukrainian children’s use of the “All-Ukrainian Schools Online Platform” and their need for safe learning spaces and materials.

The European Commission is supporting the education systems of EU Member States accepting Ukrainian refugees. The Commission helps displaced students, staff, and Ukrainians. Information, coordination of national efforts, current European funding instruments for immediate needs, and new funding and policy instruments for medium-term support are used. The Commission also created an EU Education Solidarity Group for Ukraine to help countries hosting Ukrainian schoolchildren by pooling Member State expertise and providing guidance through existing tools and mechanisms. A special competitive call of €5 million was furthermore launched to support the development of an open education digital environment for Ukraine.

In conclusion, the Ukraine conflict has damaged/destroyed many schools and universities. The EU has provided financial and technical support to rebuild schools and universities in war-torn Ukraine and ensure that children and youth have access to quality education. However, education challenges are still persisting, especially in areas where conflict is still happening. In order to identify and address the most urgent needs of the Ukrainian educational system, such as to rebuild the damaged schools, universities, provide digital help, curriculum development, and the provision of secure learning environments for children, the EU and its partners must continue to collaborate with the Ukrainian local communities and authorities.

  1. Dr. Bawa Singh, Department of South and Central Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Central University of Punjab. [email protected]
  1. Dr. Shankar Lal Bika, Department of Education, School of Education, Central University of Punjab.  [email protected] 

One thought on “Review Of EU’s Role To Rebuild Ukraine’s Education System – OpEd

  • April 23, 2023 at 8:09 pm

    valuable article sir👏👏this article saying that “Greatness of education.” on the other hand “How war will destroy the education..”


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