As school year begins, millions of Ukrainian children at risk of educational loss and mental health issues

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Highlights

  • An estimated 5.7 million children’s education has been affected since the start of the war, including 3.6 million due to school closures.
  • Six months into the conflict, 1.5 million children are at risk of mental health issues
  • Funding is needed to enable humanitarian actors like World Vision to support children’s educational progress and well-being
A Ukrainian refugee child. An estimated 5.7 million children’s education has been affected since the start of the war, including 3.6 million due to school closures. ©2022 World Vision

BUCHAREST (August 24, 2022) — As school doors reopen for millions of children in September, the war in Ukraine is extending the disruptions to education caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The conflict is jeopardizing the future for an entire generation of Ukrainian children,” said Jennifer Neelsen, World Vision’s Ukraine crisis response director. “Within the space of six months, their lives have drastically changed, and now their access to education has been compromised or even entirely cut off.”

UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell noted that Ukraine’s educational system has been devastated by the war, with an estimated 1 in 10 schools damaged or destroyed. And as schools are often targeted or used by combatants, families do not feel safe sending their children back to class.

“Going back to school gives children a sense of normality, but millions of boys and girls in Ukraine will miss the new school year, and it will be incredibly difficult to regain the time and opportunity to learn,” Neelsen stressed.

World Vision is providing informal education and catch-up materials to children in Ukraine, and notes that children whose families have sought refuge in nearby countries also need support to be able to continue their education in their host communities.

“Ukraine’s children must be provided with learning resources, opportunities, and support through enhanced education programs as the school year opens,” Neelsen said.

As well as missing out on an education, Ukraine’s children are also at risk of lasting psychosocial impacts. World Vision’s  No Peace of Mind Report highlights that over 1.5 million of them risk mental health complications as a result of being exposed to the horrors of war. According to the U.N., almost every child in Ukraine has been exposed to deeply distressing events.

“As always, innocent children are bearing the brunt of conflict. Many have witnessed violence and death, millions have been forced to leave their homes, their pets, and even family members. Their lives have been torn apart and the international community must prioritize their mental health and education,” Neelsen said.

To date, World Vision’s crisis response efforts in Ukraine and surrounding countries have assisted more than 277,000 people, with over 5,000 children receiving educational support. But the need is expected to rise as winter looms, potentially bringing more challenges.

“We must not forget the continued and increasing needs of Ukraine’s children,” Neelsen said.  “They need structure, they need education, they need support. International aid organizations like World Vision are there to provide that support, but prioritized funding is desperately needed to make it happen.”

AboutWorld Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. With staff in nearly 100 countries, World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information, please visit www.WorldVision.org/media-center/ or on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.