Exactly three months after President von der Leyen‘s announcement in her 2022 State of the Union Address, the European Commission and the Government of Ukraine have signed a €100 million support package for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of schooling facilities damaged in Russia’s full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine. Support will reach Ukraine through the EU’s humanitarian partners and partly as budget support to the Government of Ukraine.
The European Commission has allocated around €14 million from an ongoing contract with the Polish Development Bank “Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego” to purchase school buses and bring Ukrainian children safely to school. The Commission has also launched an EU-wide solidarity campaign to donate school buses for Ukraine, channelled through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Overall, around 240 buses are now on the way from the EU and its member states. More are coming.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, said: “Russia’s targeted attacks against civilian infrastructure, especially as winter grips the country, are a deliberate crime against millions of innocent people. And they are a gross violation of international law. The EU’s top priority is to bring back as soon as possible Ukrainian children back to school. Today we are delivering on our promise to support the rehabilitation of schools damaged and destroyed by Russia’s brutal war. And by early 2023, we will also deliver school buses for Ukraine so children can actually travel to school in the best possible conditions. The future of Ukraine begins with its children back in schools.”
First Lady of Ukraine, OlenaZelenskasaid: “I am grateful to the European Commission, and President Ursula von der Leyen in particular, for supporting the restoration of Ukrainian schools. Today, less than a third of children in Ukraine have possibility to regularly attend a school. The rest have to study online or in a hybrid format. Due to constant shelling and blackouts, it becomes increasingly difficult. For my Foundation, the restoration of the educational process is a priority. Education of our children today is our contribution to the common European future.”
The €100 million assistance package includes:
- €34 million in humanitarian aid, out of which €20 million channelled through the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and €14 million through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). This support will focus onlight and medium repairs including repairs of windows, roofs, doors, sanitation and heating facilities, as well as providing classroom equipment in learning spaces and bomb shelters.
- €66 million to be provided directly to the Ukrainian government as budget support.
The Commission will work together with the Ukrainian government and the Olena Zelenska Foundation. The Commission expects to disburse the €66 million of budget support in the next few weeks. UNOPS and UNDP have started the damage assessment of the facilities to rehabilitate on the ground. A majority of the educational facilities that will benefit from this grant are expected to be repaired, between December 2022 and September 2023, in time for the start of the next school year.
In the case of the €14 million EU grant for school buses Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego will work with its partner on the ground, the Solidarity Fund Poland, to procure the buses in early 2023.
Russian strikes have damaged or destroyed over 2,800 education institutions so far, impacting 5.7 million school-aged children. Many simply do not have a classroom to go to. Online education does not always work, with limited power nor access to appropriate IT equipment. To ensure continuity of education, the rehabilitation of school buildings and the provision of school buses have become a top priority for the EU. The Commission acted very quickly to ensure funding so that these children have the possibility to return to in-person education as soon as possible in the best possible conditions.
Support to education in emergencies
The EU has been providing humanitarian support to Ukraine in emergency education since the beginning of the war. This support aims to prevent and reduce disruption in education of crisis-affected children by promoting access to safe quality education. Through our humanitarian partners, we provide needed materials, supplies and capacity building of teachers, offering psycho-social support and life-saving messages to children and education staff. EU humanitarian aid also supports the light and medium rehabilitation of educational facilities and the establishment of digital learning centres. Through its Crisis Response Actions, the EU has been supporting the use by Ukrainian children of the Ukrainian government’s ‘All-Ukrainian Schools Online Platform’ and the needs for safe physical learning spaces and materials for children.
Support for Ukraine in the field of education
The European Commission is mobilising its instruments to support the education systems of the EU Member States receiving people that have fled Ukraine. The Commission also supports displaced students and staff, as well as those staying in Ukraine. This is done through information provision, coordination of national efforts, current European funding instruments to address immediate needs, and through new funding and policy instruments to provide medium term support. The Commission has also set up an EU Education Solidarity Group for Ukraine supporting the countries who are hosting Ukrainian school-age children by pooling available expertise in Member States and providing guidance through the existing tools and mechanisms.
Education and training intended for displaced parents, pupils, schools and teachers, as well as those wanting to contribute to solidarity efforts in EU Member States includes links to online educational resources in Ukrainian, advice on integrating displaced children in national education systems, teaching and language support, fast track practices on the integration of teachers that have fled Ukraine into national education systems, and guidance on psycho-social support.
The Commission has allowed for flexibility under the 2022 Erasmus+ programme in support of students and staff from Ukraine. Under the 2023 Erasmus+ calls, launched in November 2022, the Erasmus+ international actions – in particular the international credit mobility, the capacity-building projects and the Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters – will continue to be open to students, staff and higher education institutions from Ukraine. A special competitive call of €5 million was furthermore launched to support the development of an open education digital environment for Ukraine.