Almost half school-aged refugee children from Ukraine missing out on formal education: UN

The UN on Friday said that as the new school year begins across Europe, children and youth from Ukraine now face their third year of disrupted education after Moscow launched a war on Kyiv in February 2022, News.Az reports citing Anadolu Agency. 

William Spindler, a spokesman for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), said at a news conference that while 30-50% of some 5.9 million Ukrainian refugees across Europe are children, only about half were enrolled in schools in host countries for the 2022-2023 academic year.

“UNHCR is concerned that unless urgent action is taken, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugee children will continue to miss out on education this year,” Spindler said.

UNHCR released a report, titled Education on Hold, which focuses on the impact of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“With the ongoing full-scale war in Ukraine, major efforts are required to avoid long-term damage to children’s learning, potential and prospects,” Spindler said.

The report said that disruption to education continues to be a significant issue, with some 5 million people internally displaced and schools – among other critical civilian infrastructure – destroyed.

“Factors contributing to low enrolment rates for refugee children include administrative, legal and language barriers; a lack of information on available education options; a hesitancy among parents to enroll their children in host countries as they hope to return home soon to Ukraine,” Spindler said.

The report also found uncertainty about eventual reintegration into the Ukrainian education system.

The UNHCR spokesman said another major obstacle is the lack of capacity of schools in host countries.

“With an unprecedented number of refugee children arriving in the months following the war, many schools in countries of asylum simply did not have the physical space or number of teachers required to respond and accommodate new arrivals,” Spindler said.

The report also called for increasing the capacity of schools so every refugee child can be accommodated.

“While temporary measures may be used in the short term, longer-term planning and resources are essential to ensure adequate space, capacity and teachers,” said Spindler.

“The coming year should be used by states and education institutions to plan to ensure all refugee children can enroll in the next school year.”


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