The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine continues to have a fundamental devastating impact upon children, youth, education personnel and the whole education system; especially in the areas along the 427-kilometer-long ‘contact line’.
There is widespread evidence of the cumulative effect of the conflict on 735,000 children and teachers’1 learning and teaching in 3,500 education facilities in the wider affected areas. Access to education is intermittently disrupted and the wellbeing and learning of children and youth is severely affected due to conflict-related trauma and prolonged toxic stress. Being both caretakers and victims, teacher’s ability to teach is impacted as they themselves are severely stressed.
It must be noted there are differences in the specific needs of children and communities living in Government controlled areas (GCA) and non-Government controlled areas (NGCA) due to factors such as education systems, security, safety, response mechanisms, economic decline and services available. The Education Cluster covers both since its mandate is to work in conflict affected areas based upon principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence.
The Ukraine Education Cluster (UEC) Strategy has been developed in consultation with partners, and it is closely aligned with the multi-year Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP). However, the UEC Strategy is intended to be broader in its scope than the HRP, presenting the UEC’s approach in areas not touched upon in the HRP.
This Strategy is aimed at building a common understanding and commitment among partners, ensuring not only global minimum standards as our joint foundation but also that context-specific standards are set, shared and adhered to.
Furthermore, this Strategy can also be considered as a tool of communication and advocacy on various education related initiatives including endorsement and implementation of the Safe School Declaration with involvement of diverse stakeholders in education; where we as a community present the needs and the response, in addition to raising our concerns and underline every child’s right to a safe, inclusive, protective and relevant quality education.
Finally, in a deeply politicized setting this strategy has its limitations. The Education Cluster has tried to keep the best interests of the conflict-affected children, youth, education personnel, and communities at heart during the development of the Strategy.