Ukraine to Act For Early Years

Theirworld's President Justin van Fleet and Chair Sarah Brown meet Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during the third Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen hosted in Kyiv, Ukraine on 6th September 2023.

Theirworld will work with Ukraine’s government to transform education and development for children aged three to five.

As Ukraine looks to the future, it will place early childhood education as the top of its education reform agenda to ensure that Ukrainian children – including refugees returning from abroad – can benefit from a safe, quality early education.

The partnership was announced today at a Theirworld event to launch the Act For Early Years campaign at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The campaign calls for world leaders to invest in early years childcare and pre-primary education.

“We are proud of our friendship and partnership to unleash the potential of the next generation of Ukrainian children.”

Dr Yevhen Kudriavets, First Deputy Minister for Education and Science of Ukraine

At the event, Dr Yevhen Kudriavets, Ukraine’s First Deputy Minister for Education and Science, said: “Ukraine is committed to be an Act for the Early Years champion – even during a crisis. We are committed to reforming our system and increasing the coverage for three to five-year-old children across the country.”

The announcement came after Theirworld Chair Sarah Brown met President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv earlier this month. She and Theirworld President Justin van Fleet travelled to Ukraine to attend the Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen.

President Zelenskyy requested that Theirworld work with Ukraine’s government to focus on comprehensive support for early childhood education, as well as accelerated learning programmes for science and mathematics.

Since the Russian invasion began, more than 100 early childhood schools have been destroyed and more than 1,000 damaged. Many are being used as shelters for internally displaced people.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hugs Theirworld Chair Sarah Brown

As part of the new initiative, Theirworld will provide technical support and staffing to develop and implement the national early childhood education and development initiative.

Theirworld President Justin van Fleet said: “During the first five years of a child’s life, 90% of brain development takes place. That’s why we are hyper-focused on making sure every child has the strongest supports and developmental opportunities – regardless of their country or background.”

Theirworld and Ukraine’s government have a track record of working together to deliver education opportunity.

Over the past year, Theirworld’s Global Business Coalition for Education worked with HP, Microsoft, the Olena Zelenska Foundation and about a dozen organizations to deliver 70,000 laptops – more than 38,000 inside Ukraine and the remaining to refugees in host countries, including Hungary, Poland, Romania, Moldova, Germany and the UK.

5 million
Ukrainian children have had their education disrupted since the Russian invasion.

The initiative reached more than 1.5 million learners in the first year, marking one of the single largest education investments in the first year of the war.

Theirworld has also supported Stay With Ukraine, a programme to help young refugees keep in touch with Ukrainian language, learning and culture while living in other countries. That project is delivered by Ukrainian NGO Smart Osvita and supported by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

“We are proud of our friendship and partnership to unleash the potential of the next generation of Ukrainian children.”

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