25 May 2022 - Poland, Ukraine


Children learning in the new school for Ukrainian refugee children in Warsaw

Child learning in the new school for Ukrainian refugee children in Warsaw.

With more than 3 million children fleeing Ukraine since the war escalated three months ago, Save the Children’s CEO Inger Ashing is urging European governments to do more to help refugee children get back into school as soon as possible. 

Poland is hosting the largest number of refugees from Ukraine, with immediate additional funding and resources needed to enrol about 800,000 school-aged children who have entered the country into the Polish educational system with only about a quarter signed up so far.   

Save the Children has welcomed the efforts of the Polish authorities to enrol children from Ukraine but help is needed to increase the numbers of and training for Polish teachers and the recruitment of Ukrainian teachers. Additional funding also needs to be allocated to local municipalities to hire intercultural assistants, and language teachers and for non-formal education activities – including Polish language lessons - during the summer holidays to prepare children to enter Polish schools. 

While no substitute for in-person education, children who cannot attend Polish school in the short term should be helped to access distance learning, the Ukrainian authorities have developed online platforms for children to continue learning the Ukrainian curriculum. It is critical children can access devices and free internet to utilise these online learning materials, whether they are in Ukraine or in neighbouring countries. Distance learning must be complemented by other activities that allow children to enjoy the other benefits of school, such as playing with peers. 

Visiting a school set up for approximately 250 children from Ukraine in Warsaw on Thursday, Ms Ashing said: 

“A child’s right to safe, inclusive, quality education does not end in times of emergency. Children fleeing Ukraine are carrying with them the terrible experiences they have faced and schooling has a vital role in their recovery. Being in a school environment enables children to survive and thrive at times of great uncertainty and vulnerability. School bolsters their resilience and socio-emotional development. It provides a safe space for them to be children again, to play and make positive connections.    

“We must not deny these children their right to an education, access to skills and knowledge, personal growth, and the route to a better life.   Without education and without protection, these children are being denied both their childhood and hope for the future.”  

Ms Ashing was accompanied by Angela Ahrendts DBE, chair of Save the Children’s global board. Ms Ahrendts joined Save the Children in January 2021 as the first independent chair of the Board. She was previously the CEO of Burberry and an SVP at Apple Inc. 

As well as helping set up the new school in Warsaw, Save the Children is establishing seven Digital Learning Hubs in libraries in Poland to support children in continuing their learning via the online resources from Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science. Working through a local partner, these hubs will provide support from a teacher from Ukraine and a librarian from Poland and provide access to social-emotional learning and mental health support and resources, Polish language classes, and other community-based activities. 

Across Europe, Save the Children is supporting refugee families in-country by supporting children’s access to the services they need including through immediate continued access to education through digital platforms. 

In Ukraine, the organisation is delivering education kits to keep children learning wherever they can as well as distributing bunker kits with toys and educational tools to children sheltering in railway stations and underground to stay safe from the conflict.  

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