Works begin under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
UNOPS is working with the EU and partners to help more than 20,000 students return to school.
- Since the beginning of the Russian invasion in Ukraine in February 2022, the Ministry of Education reported that 3,328 educational institutions in Ukraine have been damaged, impacting the life of millions of children.
- As part of a wider support package funded by the European Union (EU), UNOPS will rehabilitate more than 40 schools, starting with 8 schools which have been identified for immediate attention.
- By rehabilitating these schools, the EU together with UNOPS will cater to young Ukrainians with a safe environment to learn and grow. Through this project, the EU and UNOPS aim to provide safe and accessible learning environments for more than 20,000 students affected by the war.
Construction work began in late June on the first batch of educational institutions as part of the School Repairs in Ukraine project, funded by the EU and implemented by UNOPS. The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine puts the rights of millions of children to quality education at risk. The objective of this initiative is to rehabilitate war-damaged schools for the return of students at the start of the new academic year in September 2023.
Claudia Amaral, Head of EU Humanitarian Aid in Ukraine, stressed the importance of this initiative, stating, "We aim to restore a sense of normalcy and stability for children who have been affected by this war. The EU is committed to standing alongside Ukraine to rebuild schools, dreams, and the future of its children."
Following detailed assessments by specialists, eight schools across three oblasts – Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Chernihiv – have been identified for immediate attention. The repair work will focus on replacing windows and doors, addressing the relatively limited damage caused by blast waves from nearby missile strikes. The aim is to ensure that these buildings are safe and comfortable for the returning students.
Oleksandra Azarkhina, Deputy Minister for the Development of Communities, Territories, and Infrastructure of Ukraine, noted: "Words of gratitude go out to our international partners, including the School Repairs in Ukraine project, implemented by UNOPS, for their significant support. The project is tackling the renovation of educational facilities that sustained local damage, providing them with much needed equipment, and improving their shelters to meet safety requirements."
The repair works at these initial eight schools will be followed by more extensive renovations at an additional 28 sites. These subsequent repairs will involve addressing roofs and walls, repairing heating systems as needed, and improving shelter conditions to further enhance safety.
"Education is what every country's future depends on," emphasized Tim Lardner, UNOPS Ukraine Country Director. "As Ukraine faces the challenges that lie ahead, it will need the talents of its young generations to secure a sustainable pathway to prosperity. By helping schools reopen, we are making our modest contribution to the country's success."
Local authorities and school administrations are optimistic that these efforts will allow students to return to classrooms and resume their education. Principal Viktoriia Shalimova of Lyceum no. 4 in Lozova, one of the eight schools in the first batch, acknowledged the impact on children, stating, "Children miss being able to socialize with their peers. They will sometimes visit school, although they don't have classes. I keep hearing how much they miss it."
Despite the ongoing war and the recurrent threat of airstrikes, the Ukrainian government has adopted a plan to transition a significant number of schools back to offline learning starting this September. Recently adopted requirements dictate that all educational facilities must have shelters with sufficient space to operate, which highlights the government's commitment to safe educational environments.
Oleksandra Azarkhina, Deputy Minister for the Development of Communities, Territories, and Infrastructure of Ukraine, emphasized this, stating, "Safe educational environments are one of the government's top priorities. We have already launched the recovery and reconstruction of damaged schools, as well as the construction of new ones. Central to these efforts is the Fund for the Elimination of the Consequences of Armed Aggression, which has provided funding to 65 secondary schools."