This brief presents the prospects for sustaining enrollment of Ukrainian students in educational services and addressing accumulating learning losses.
Displacement of Students and Educators. The war in Ukraine has resulted in more than 6 million Ukrainians fleeing to neighboring countries. This includes nearly 665,000 students (16% of total number of enrolled students) and over 25,000 educators (6% of total educators in the country). Another 8 million Ukrainians are displaced internally.1 Refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) include primarily children, women, and older people. Over 74% of IDPs have children within their households.
Displacement has had a significant impact on education service delivery, along with damage and destruction of educational facilities. As of May 6, 2022, according to the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine (MoES), 1,635 schools and universities (5% of total) have been damaged from the war and 126 have been destroyed.
Current Efforts of the Education System to Sustain Student Enrollment and Service Delivery. The current imperative need is to keep students engaged and enable them to successfully complete the 2022 academic year. Currently, around 86% of schools in Ukraine have ‘officially’ resumed classes (following short-term closures after the invasion), but almost exclusively via online/distance modalities. Over 91,000 IDP students have re-enrolled in schools at places of their temporary residence (especially in Lviv Oblast). There are various online schooling initiatives to maintain access to education during the war, both for students within Ukraine and refugee students outside Ukraine, though there are significant gaps in coverage. Needs assessment surveys are underway. Universities have relatively better coverage, followed by schools (grades 5-11), which have access to the AllUkrainian Online School e-platform for distance and blended learning, established during the pandemic to ensure access to curricula and learning materials for grades 5-11 students. Although the average daily traffic has grown 20-fold since the war started, the online platform is static, and many teachers do not regularly use it as it offers little opportunity for direct student-teacher interaction. There is significantly less online content available for young children (preschool to 4th grade).
Impact on Opportunity to Learn and Learning Outcomes. School disruptions due to war or pandemics can have persistent negative effects on learning because they impact all elements of a student’s opportunity to learn: (i) less time spent on learning and (ii) lower quality of instruction via remote/online modalities, leading to (iii) less content covered during instruction. Ukraine performed at par with its regional neighbors in eastern Europe2 prior to the pandemic, and it outpaced them in terms of students’ learning resilience3 ; however, estimates of learning losses due to the Russian invasion suggest that learning outcomes are now below the lowest-performing countries in Europe. Continued school closures only exacerbate learning losses in Ukraine. Schools were closed or disrupted due to Covid-19 for 31 weeks in Ukraine, or nearly 8 months, leading to an estimated learning loss of around 20 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) points (based on OECD averages of learning per year).
We add another two months due to the war to date. Despite the above-mentioned efforts to sustain learning, many Ukrainian children will likely not go back to school before the fall, losing at least five more months of school time. In total, learning losses in Ukraine can amount to over one year, due to extended pandemic-related closures and the war. HLO estimates due to this length of school closure could fall from 481 to about 451 points, below the lowest performing countries in Europe, Moldova, and Armenia.4 The long-term effect could be substantial, with future earnings losses of more than 10% a year per student.