“For me it was a new way of learning. Studying here [at the Hub] was very interesting. I had good teachers and found many new friends here. When I was at the Hub, I felt at home. Thanks to it, I found friends from other parts of Ukraine. Thank you!” says Vlad, an 8th grade student of the Inspiration Cafe offline educational hub for internally displaced children in Uzhhorod, Zakarpatska oblast. The Hub was established by Kyiv-based school Educator Lyceum with financial support from the European Union, among other donors.
The ongoing war has deprived Ukrainian children of their basic rights, including the right for education. Hostilities have damaged more than 2,500 educational institutions in Ukraine, completely levelling at least 285 of them. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, five million school-aged children in Ukraine were in need of educational support as of August 12, 2022.
The Hub in Uzhhorod has created a welcoming educational environment and became home for 512 children aged 5 to 17 from all over Ukraine who had to flee from the war. More than one third of these children could not attend any classes for at least a month since the war started, another third tried to study online despite a poor internet connection, constant shelling and air raids. The Hub offered the children the opportunity to combine offline studying, creative and social activities, psychological sessions and action-packed physical education.
As the result, all students successfully passed their yearly academic tests in June 2022, and less than 2 months later the Hub psychologists confirmed the improvement of the students’ mental health. The action won the recognition of stakeholders in and outside of Zakarpatska oblast, and the Hub team is consulting local authorities and activists in other regions of Ukraine on setting up similar projects there.
The initiative also contributed to addressing one of the most challenging problems of all hosting communities in Ukraine – employment and adaptation of IDPs. In August 2022, there were 589 unemployed persons registered at Uzhhorod Employment Center, and only 110 job openings. The Hub involved 24 internally displaced professionals as teachers, experts or service providers, helping them to integrate more quickly in the local community and provide for their families.
“My child visited the Hub from the first day of its operation. The educational process was organized successfully, all needed conditions were created for children’s learning, development, and communication. Needed not for ordinary children, but children who fled the war. For children who ended up in an unknown city against their will, who lost their homes, schools, and friends because of the war. These children could come back to classes, take part in joint projects, educational events, improve their physical condition. The Hub brought them back to school, workbooks, textbooks, lessons and breaks. The Hub returned them to normal life! Our family is grateful for every day of these three months filled with work, creativity, communication and school life!” says a parent of a Hub student in the final survey.
The project “Offline educational hub for IDPs in Uzhhorod: academic and psychological support, social adaptation and career advice” is one of the initiatives supported by the European Union through our ‘Eastern Partnership Civil Society Facility project within the #StandWithUkraine Call launched on the 8th of April 2022, in response to the war in Ukraine. Through this Call we directly supported 14 initiatives, covering a wide range of topics: support to pregnant women during the war, support to IDPs in specific regions, first aid and safety trainings for volunteers and citizens, educational programmes for children, as well as support to preparatory work for economic recovery. In addition, 13 smaller scale initiatives were supported through the EaP Civil Society Fellowship programme. Find more about the results of the Call here and read the stories about other supported initiatives here.