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Russian military destroys over 1,300 schools in Ukraine, UNICEF reports

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A recent report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that over 1,300 schools in government-held areas of Ukraine have been completely destroyed by the Russian army.

The report highlights that the barrage of attacks from the Russian military has resulted in only around one-third of schoolchildren being able to attend regular in-person classes, while two-thirds of preschool-aged children are unable to attend kindergartens. In regions directly affected by the frontline conflict, 75% of parents are apprehensive about sending their children to preschool due to safety concerns.

“Inside Ukraine, attacks on schools have continued unabated, leaving children deeply distressed and without safe spaces to learn. Not only has this left Ukraine’s children struggling to progress in their education, but they are also struggling to retain what they learnt when their schools were fully functioning,” said Regina De Dominicis, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia.

The situation is further exacerbated by the fact that the ongoing war has compounded the negative effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, thereby disrupting the standard educational process for Ukrainian students for the fourth year in a row.

These circumstances have taken a toll on childrens’ academic performance. 57% of teachers have reported a decline in students' proficiency in the Ukrainian language, while 45% have noticed a decline in mathematical skills, and 52% have observed a decrease in foreign language skills.

More than half of the children whose families fled abroad as a result of Russia’s invasion have been unable to enrol in local educational institutions due to language barriers and disparities in educational systems. For refugee children, alternative methods of learning have been adopted, including online education through Ukrainian programs or other remote learning platforms.

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