The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine that started in 2014 continues to have a devastating impact on children, youth, education personnel and the whole education system. There is widespread evidence of the cumulative effects of the conflict on 735,000 children and teachers1 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 conflictrelated stress, trauma, prolonged toxic stress, socioeconomic difficulties and the context of a general economic decline in the region. Children and communities living in Non-Government Controlled Areas (NGCA) are of a particular concern and experience multiple constrains and obstacles related to the recognition of their education attainments which affects their access to vocational, higher education and the job market in the Government Controlled Areas (GCA).
Since 2014 the education system has splintered worsening pre-existing conditions in the education sector. At the moment there are three disconnected education systems in Ukraine GCA with the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES) based in the capital city of Kyiv, Donetska NGCA and Luhanska NGCA with their own de-facto MoESs based in Donetsk city and Luhansk city respectively. The separation was reinforced by differences in the language of instruction (since 2014 Russian became primary language of instruction in NGCA2 , including standards, curriculum and policies, while in Ukraine the primary language of instruction is Ukrainian as reflected in the Language Law3 (endorsed in April 2019). Both in GCA and NGCA systems went through a reform process. In GCA, in 2016 the concept of the New Ukrainian School4 was presented together with the implementation plan of the reform. New de-facto Education Laws were designed in both Donetska NGCA5 and Luhanska NGCA6 incorporating elements of Russian education system into the existing curriculum.
For example, grading systems are different with 12 scores in GCA and 5 scores in NGCA. In autumn 2014, 18 higher education institutions7 were relocated from NGCA to GCA. Displaced universities faced severe challenges as significant part of staff, equipment and resources were left behind and currently are a part of de-facto Higher Education System of so-called “Luhansk People’s Republic” (LPR) and “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DPR).
Since 20148 , according to the Ukraine Education Cluster estimates as of beginning of the 2019 school year, the number of children and youth who received school certificates issued by the de facto authorities in NGCA reached 120,000 (including 9 and 11 grades). This is a 21 per cent increase compared to 20189 . This number is progressively growing and might reach 140,000 students by the end of the 2019 – 2020 school year.