Ensuring continued learning for Ukrainian refugees

Russia’s large-scale war of aggression against Ukraine has forced the displacement of millions of Ukrainians across the world, many of whom have been received by OECD countries. As of June 2023, the number of Ukrainian refugees across the OECD stands at approximately 4.7 million, with around 3.7 million registered in European Union (EU) OECD countries. In absolute terms, Germany, Poland, and the United States accommodate the largest number of Ukrainian refugees, while Estonia, the Czech Republic, and Lithuania have received the highest proportion of refugees relative to their population (OECD, forthcoming[1]). An estimated 40% of these refugees are children, whose futures and education have been disrupted.

OECD countries have taken many measures in order to effectively receive and manage the influx of Ukrainian arrivals. In European countries, Ukrainians benefit from the European Union’s (EU) temporary protection scheme launched on 4 March 2022 (European Union, 2022[2]). The EU temporary protection scheme allows those fleeing the war and devastation in Ukraine to benefit from harmonised rights across the EU. This includes residency rights, access to the labour market, medical assistance and freedom of movement within the EU. In particular, it allowed Ukrainians under 18 to benefit from the same education policies as nationals and EU citizens and to continue their education during the school year 2021/22. This situation has been challenging for countries and has created capacity problems in schools, higher education institutions and other educational institutions.

In May 2022, the OECD Secretariat launched its first data collection on the emergency policies OECD countries had put in place to accommodate Ukrainian refugee students in their education systems at the onset of the war. As the war continued beyond the 2021/22 academic year, OECD host countries had to change their policy responses from emergency measures to measures which ensure the lasting inclusion of Ukrainian refugees in education. Considering this, the OECD Secretariat launched a new data collection in February 2023, in which 26 countries and other participants took part.

Enrolment in education systems is important for refugees not only for their academic performance and future labour-market prospects, but also for their social and emotional well-being (Cerna, 2019[3]). Integrating refugee children into school systems can also improve the employment prospects of their parents and guardians, making it easier for them to take up employment while their children are in education (OECD, 2023[4]).

The 2023 OECD Survey on Ensuring Continued Learning of Ukrainian Refugee Students collected data on the barriers countries faced and the measures they took in integrating Ukrainian refugees into their education systems, from pre-primary to tertiary level. The survey also covered vocational education and training (VET) and remote learning opportunities. The OECD survey covered policies and challenges at both the national level, and at institutional level where education institutions operate independently (see Definitions section). Although language was the main barrier countries reported across all levels and types of education, other barriers and measures varied depending on the age of the refugees and their educational attainment.

One-third of the children who were displaced from their homes in Ukraine are estimated to be under 6 years-old (UNICEF, 2023[5]) Adverse life experience in the early years, when children experience rapid brain growth and development, can have long-lasting negative effects (Center on the Developing Child, 2007[6]). High-quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) services which are inclusive of refugees and their needs can be a valuable tool for offsetting the effects of trauma and displacement (UNICEF, 2023[5]).

ECEC is considered extremely important for laying down the foundations for future learning, skills development and well-being. High-quality ECEC can be a powerful means of ensuring equity and inclusion in society, and an effective tool for increasing children’s socio-emotional skills and school readiness. These skills can be particularly valuable for refugee children. However, statistics show that only 1 in 3 refugee children under the age of 6 are registered for ECEC in their host societies (UNICEF, 2023[5]). In most OECD countries, over 80% of children aged 3 to 5 years-old are enrolled in some form of ECEC (Education at a Glance Database).

As well as being beneficial for children, ECEC also plays an important role in allowing carers of young children to take up employment. Around 70% of arrivals from Ukraine are women with children, often without their partners, making the availability of adequate and affordable childcare essential for women’s socio-economic integration (OECD, 2023[4]). A survey by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights found that 3 in 10 Ukrainian refugees could not work because of care obligations, which affected women (33%) more frequently than men (9%) (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2023[7]).

Ukrainian refugees face many barriers in accessing ECEC. These include language barriers, teacher and staff shortages, financial barriers, lack of information on how to enrol, and lack of places for children. For many European countries, demand for ECEC has outstripped supply for several years (UNICEF, 2023[5]). Language was the most reported barrier identified by countries responding to the OECD 2023 survey, followed by the ‘relatively low integration of Ukrainian families in the (educational) system’, teacher and staff shortages, and financial barriers.

There are several aspects of the work of ECEC staff which are considered important for the effective early childhood education of refugee children. These include providing psychological support, ensuring socio-emotional well-being, working with diverse children and families, and trauma-informed care (UNICEF, 2023[5]). While most of the countries taking part in the OECD survey reported that these formed part of the initial training of all ECEC teaching staff, some introduced specific training measures after the arrival of Ukrainian children. In the Slovak Republic, for example, the Ministry of Education arranged the provision of specific materials and voluntary training for teachers on the psychological support and integration of children from Ukraine. Estonia has organised additional support and funding for pre-school childcare institutions in regional counselling centres, which include speech therapists, special education teachers, and psychological and social-pedagogical counselling. Additional funds were also allocated to support the training and hiring of specialist support teachers. In France, specific training has been created to help teachers deal with pupils arriving from Ukraine and other countries facing war. Teachers benefit from this training regardless of the level of school they teach.

Recruiting Ukrainian-speaking staff can improve communication between the refugee children and their families and the education system. It can also be a highly effective measure in ECEC, since research shows that mother-tongue education can result in increased cognitive development and greater second language literacy. A host country’s support for a refugee’s native language can lead to improved self-esteem and the retention of identity among refugee students and their families (Cerna, 2019[3]). Spain reports that it has recruited around 200 Ukrainian language assistants so far into Spanish schools, with 90 of them assigned to pre-primary and primary schools. The goal of these assistants is to provide educational support and assist with integration.

Several countries also report expanding their ECEC sector in response to the influx of Ukrainian children. This has been achieved through measures such as recruiting new staff, opening new ECEC settings and financial support. Financial support was most frequently reported to be a high priority measure in the survey. Spain, for example, has created a specific funding programme to help education settings at ECEC, primary and secondary levels cope with the influx of refugees. This includes transport subsidies for Ukrainian school assistants, school transport for students and school meal subsidies. Financial support was also provided in Slovenia, where parents under temporary protection are entitled to reduced kindergarten fees, which they can apply for through their local Social Work Centre. Under certain circumstances, their kindergarten fees are paid in full. In New Zealand, access to ECEC remains free for all resident children between 3 and 5 for up to 20 hours a week, regardless of their status as a refugee or otherwise.

Several structural and familial barriers make it difficult for Ukrainian refugee students to enrol in schools in their host countries. Structural barriers include language, lack of learning spaces/resources and teacher shortages, and the fact that school is not compulsory for refugee children in some countries. Personal and familial barriers include the intention to return to Ukraine in the short to medium term, concerns about the future recognition of skills or competencies in Ukraine, and lack of information on how to enrol. Students’ academic aspirations, social and emotional well-being, and future labour-market potential may be affected by these barriers. It is important for countries to continue to monitor whether these barriers are causing issues and apply their policies accordingly.

Language was the most frequently reported barrier identified by the countries and other participants taking part in the survey. Language is one of the key factors that can promote or hinder the integration of refugee children. Not only is it important for academic achievement, but it is essential for developing a sense of belonging at school (Cerna, 2019[3]). For refugees, achieving a successful education relies greatly on the linguistic environment of their host country and its level of acceptance of multilingualism and intercultural education (UNESCO, 2019, p. 13[8]). The countries responding to the OECD survey reported that many Ukrainians do not speak the language of their host country, which can make it difficult for students, parents and guardians to understand enrolment processes and requirements, and hinder students’ ability to understand their course and connect with teachers and peers. Furthermore, many do not hold the formal language certificates they need to enrol in some programmes and courses.

Another barrier to enrolment is students’ and their family’s intention to return to Ukraine as soon as possible. For instance, if they are hoping to return in the short or medium term, they may not be able to complete an educational programme in their host country or may be less motivated to integrate into a new education system. Relatedly, countries report that many students choose to follow the online curriculum offered by the Ukrainian government, instead of enrolling in their host country’s education system (see below). Lack of capacity to accept new students is another barrier. For instance, England (United Kingdom) reported that, in some cases, schools have had to create additional capacity, exceeding their usual capacity limits.

Countries and systems have taken numerous measures to support the enrolment of Ukrainian students in their education systems from primary to upper secondary level. The provision of information mediums (booklets, websites etc.) was the most frequently reported measure in the survey, followed by language catch-up courses, recruitment of Ukrainian-speaking personnel, and co-operation/communication with the Ukrainian authorities (Figure 1). Other measures included information sessions for families, awareness information campaigns, and the establishment of temporary reception classes to facilitate integration.

Language catch-up courses can take different forms, such as online courses, preparatory classes and the creation of additional language classes in universities, schools and community centres. Some countries offer school-age children language catch-up courses as part of the curriculum, while others offer them outside of school or as part of a preparatory class. In Austria, students who lack proficiency in German are often taught in separate temporary classes, whereas in some cases, exclusive classes for Ukrainian students have been set up. In Croatia, students from Ukraine are enrolled in preparatory classes where they learn Croatian and are monitored and evaluated according to their abilities. In Switzerland, most refugees from Ukraine at upper secondary level are placed in bridge-year programmes to prepare them for later enrolment in regular programmes. These bridge-year programmes largely focus on language learning. In Hungary, if children are having difficulty continuing their studies due to a lack of knowledge of Hungarian, or because of differences in the requirements of Hungarian schools and their home country school, they may, with the permission of the school leader, repeat the grade already completed by attending catch-up courses and language classes. Ukrainian children are provided with 5 hours per week of individual preparation (in the afternoon) in addition to the regular timetable. To facilitate language learning among non-Hungarian students, a free Hungarian-as-a-foreign-language textbook for grades 3-8 has also been made available to the institutions concerned.

Estonia has set up two Ukrainian-only schools, the Vabaduse School for lower and upper secondary education and the Räägu school for primary education. The country also set up an online language learning platform for all levels of education, with games, videos and presentations. In Latvia, the Riga Ukrainian Secondary School, which provides in-depth opportunities to learn the Ukrainian language and about its history and culture, had already been established for 20 years. During the summer holidays, the school set up summer camps for students and teachers to learn the Latvian language, and also camps for Ukrainian children and Latvian children together.

The French Community of Belgium has installed the Dispositif d'Accueil et de Scolarisation des élèves Primo-Arrivants et Assimilés programme (Reception and Schooling System for New Arrivals and Assimilated Pupils, DASPA) which aims to facilitate the reception, education and integration of all newly arrived children. Schools with at least eight new migrant or refugee students can benefit from the programme, which can last up to 18 months. The programme follows a specific framework which gives newly arrived children additional supervision, and time to adapt and integrate into the Belgian socio-cultural and school system.

In Finland, many Ukrainian upper secondary students participate in tutkintokoulutukseen valmistava koulutus (preparatory education for degree training, TUVA), a bridging programme designed for learners under 18 and for adults who have not completed upper secondary education. The goal is to find a direction for further studies and to improve the skills needed to continue to upper secondary level, such as suitable study skills, life management skills or language skills.

In the United States, states and local education entities are required to provide language assistance programmes to all English learners, regardless of national or domestic origin. Services include age-appropriate English language literacy; tutoring, newcomer, or transitional programmes; after-school and summer programmes; mentoring; mental health support; and programming that supports integration. The Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022 (AUSAA) gave the Office of Refugee Resettlement specific appropriations to provide these benefits and services.

Many of the countries and other participants hosting Ukrainian refugees have provided dedicated information through campaigns or other means, which can be vital for newly arrived refugees who are not familiar with the host country’s education system and processes (Figure 1). Information has been provided in a variety of forms such as online information platforms, conferences in schools and community centres, and information on social media. In Poland, for example, the Ministry of Education and Science launched an information campaign including a chatbot, a helpline and an email inbox, partially available in Ukrainian, to provide information on admission to schools to the parents and guardians. Since mid-August 2022, the helpline has been operated by the Polish Centre for International Aid in co-operation with the ministry and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Information about Poland’s education system and enrolment procedures for Ukrainians was also published online, on the Ministry of Education website as well as on all local government websites.

Other common measures to ensure enrolment include the creation of teaching materials in Ukrainian and co-operation with Ukrainian authorities. These measures can help children to retain their identity and language skills from their home country, which forms an important part of their social and emotional well-being (Figure 1). Enabling refugees to continue some of their education in their own language can also enable them to support the recovery and rebuilding of their own country once peace returns (Debating Europe, 2017[9]). Some countries have also taken measures to recruit Ukrainian-speaking staff, such as France, who have hired Ukrainian-speaking staff for all levels of pre-school and school education. The newly hired Ukrainian-speaking staff work in dedicated centres for newly arrived non-French speaking students (CASNAV), who are in charge of welcoming, academically assessing and guiding new arrivals from Ukraine through the school enrolment process.

Measures to make it easier for children with disabilities to enrol, such as adapted curricula for individualised learning or recruitment of teaching assistants who specialise in disability issues, vary among countries. Most countries that took part in the survey reported that the standard measures for children with disabilities apply to all children enrolled in school, regardless of whether they have refugee status or not. A few countries have applied specific measures for Ukrainian students with special education needs, however. In Romania, for example, one of the Ministry of Education’s main priorities was to adapt its legislative and administrative measures in order to ensure that disabled children with special education needs can have access to kindergartens and schools under the same conditions as Romanian children.

Vocational education and training (VET) can play a valuable role in boosting young people’s skillsets and employability and can have long-lasting positive effects on their labour-market potential. Countries across the OECD place increasing emphasis on the positive effects of VET programmes for both individuals and the labour market (Semeraro, 2019[10]). Around 1 in 9 Ukrainian refugees reported holding VET qualifications in a survey conducted by the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) and the OECD across several EU countries in October 2022 (European Union Agency for Asylum and OECD, 2022[11]).

Vocational education and training is an important educational sector in Ukraine, with one-third of upper secondary students enrolled in vocationally-orientated programmes in 2020 However, many Ukrainian students have had to interrupt their VET programmes following the war. In addition to existing students whose studies have been interrupted, some refugees may want to enrol in VET programmes in their host countries since practical orientated training might help overcome any language barriers they could be facing (Cedefop, 2022[12]). For host countries, helping Ukrainian students to access VET is key not only to allowing students to continue their education, but also to supporting their own labour markets and to help with the future rebuilding of Ukraine (OECD, 2022[13]).

However, Ukrainian refugee students face barriers to accessing VET programmes in their host societies. The recognition of skills and prior qualifications can be a particular challenge. Many countries are making efforts to scale up, adapt and reinvent their VET programmes in the face of these barriers.

As with many of the educational sectors accommodating refugee students, language is the most common barrier in accessing VET programmes. In most of the countries taking part in the OECD survey, VET is conducted in the host country’s language, and very few offer VET programmes in additional languages such as English. For example, Norway reports that a prerequisite for attaining an apprenticeship is sufficient skills in the Norwegian language.

Lack of available information and lack of knowledge about local labour markets are also common barriers. Host countries reported that Ukrainian refugees, in most cases, do not have knowledge of the VET and labour-market opportunities that exist. One of the key reasons for this is a lack of accessible information. VET programmes and labour-market opportunities tend to be country specific, and knowledge about how they work and the kinds of opportunities available is not generally widespread at international level.

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) plays a key role in the integration of highly skilled refugees. Prior learning, either from education or from informal learning, needs to be recognised to support the inclusion and integration of refugees into their new society, labour market or workplace. The process of recognising previous learning can also have positive effects on refugees’ self-esteem and well-being (Andersson, 2021[14]). Countries and other participants taking part in the OECD survey reported that they had updated both national and institutional-level policies regarding RPL (Figure 2). In England (United Kingdom), the European Network Information Centre (ENIC) has researched how courses, levels and years of study in Ukraine compared to the English education system and has created a service to allow Ukrainians to apply for a “Statement of Comparability” proving their educational attainment, without having to take additional exams. Lithuania has adjusted its policy on admissions to VET institutions in order to ensure that Ukrainian VET students can continue their education and training in the same or similar programmes. Estonia enlisted both national and institutional-level policies with regard to RPL, through the national Estonian Academic Recognition Information Centre, and an institutional RPL system called VÕTA, which takes into consideration previous studies and work experience.

Countries also reported the provision of bridging programmes to smooth refugee students’ integration into VET. Estonia, for example, allows students to choose a “vocational selection programme”, which allows them to build up key competencies and language skills, while familiarising themselves with different subjects. In the United States, while a distinct upper secondary VET programme does not exist, some measures related to vocational courses or vocationally-orientated trainings are available for refugees. For instance, the Refugee Career Pathways programme provides Vocational English language training. At subnational level, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Technical Colleges Skills for Academic, Vocational, and English Studies (SAVES) Program, sponsored by the Florida Department of Children and Families’ Refugee Services Program, offers free vocational/technical classes to refugee students. The Maryland Office for Refugees and Asylees (MORA) provides the Refugee Youth Mentoring Program, which supports academic and vocational achievement for young refugees aged 15-24.

Similarly, administrative support and mentoring systems were also among the measures taken (Figure 2). Ireland, for example, aims to support all Ukrainian VET (or further education and training, as it is referred to in Ireland) students throughout all phases of the learning process. This includes staff support in Regional Education and Language Teams placed around the country. Resources for students include tutors who can offer academic guidance, among other localised forms of support. Furthermore, the Irish Universities Association is in the process of establishing a Central Irish Higher Education Helpdesk with the aim of providing support to those who wish to enter VET programmes.

The Republic of Türkiye has created a weekly course schedule in the Vocational Training Centre for people under temporary protection to increase their access to education and their employability levels but also to strengthen social integration. To increase the visibility of their national vocational and technical education system, information about over 50 educational programmes has been translated into English and published online. The website also publicises the fields/branches and professions taught in vocational and technical education institutions, digital education materials, and career and employment opportunities for students.

Recent data show that the population of refugees from Ukraine are highly educated and many have had their higher education degrees disrupted. 76% of women and 71% of men who have fled Ukraine since 2022 have completed higher education qualifications of BA/BSc and above, and 5.9% of women and 8% of men have report having incomplete higher education (Perelli-Harris et al., 2023[15]). This has led to new demand for access to tertiary education and a new set of challenges for host countries and their tertiary education policies.

There are several personal and structural barriers that can make it difficult for Ukrainian students to enrol in tertiary education in host countries and systems. These include financial barriers, language barriers, problems regarding recognition of prior learning and administrative difficulties. Language was the most frequent barrier reported in the OECD survey, followed by equivalence with diplomas/qualifications and financial barriers. Capacity issues in higher education systems, lack of information about the host country’s higher education system and ‘relatively low integration of Ukrainian families in the (educational) system’ were reported less frequently. These challenges were reported at both institutional and national levels.

As mentioned above, recognition of prior learning plays a key role in the integration of highly skilled refugees and migrants into the education system (Andersson, 2021[14]). Not only does it offer clear economic benefits for individuals and their employment prospects to have their prior qualifications recognised, but it can increase their self-esteem and confidence on a personal level (Global Education Monitoring Report, 2018[16]). Furthermore, data collected from European Network of Information Centres across Europe indicate that many Ukrainian refugees hold qualifications in fields where there are skill shortages in their host countries, such as health care and education (Norris, Duffy and Krasnoshchok, 2023[17]). These qualifications and skills could be harnessed to benefit both host countries and the refugees themselves.

Countries and other participants across the OECD have put in place exceptional measures at national and institutional level in order to include Ukrainian refugees in their higher education institutions (Figure 3). Systems have been adapted and made more flexible in numerous ways, such as offering financial aid, language courses, administrative and academic guidance, and procedures for recognition of prior learning. Financial aid was the top national measure reported in the OECD survey, followed by fee waivers and language courses. At institutional level, the top three actions taken were language courses, the facilitation of administrative procedures, recognition of prior learning, and fee waivers. Several countries have formed collaborations with Ukrainian universities and researchers; for example, over 100 partnerships between Ukrainian and English universities have been created.

In May 2022, Ireland established the National Student and Researcher Helpdesk to assist displaced students and researchers from Ukraine to apply to the higher education system or to be matched with a principal investigator to continue their research. Over 1 126 students applied via the helpdesk. To further support these students, a Temporary Tuition Fee Support Scheme was implemented through which the government paid tuition fees for students studying a full-time course in a publicly funded higher education institution. They were also provided with a financial stipend of EUR 1 150 from the Erasmus national grant. These measures were for the 2022/23 academic year only.

Spain has undertaken numerous measures at national and institutional level in order to include Ukrainian refugees in their higher education systems, as part of the University-Refugee Action Plan undertaken by the Ministry of Universities in collaboration with Spanish universities. At national level, online government platforms provide relevant information to the refugees and the universities hosting them, available in both Ukrainian and Spanish. For instance, instructions on how to certify previous academic diplomas and qualifications are available on the website of the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration. Ukrainian refugees also benefit from a faster processing time for the recognition and declaration of equivalent foreign university qualifications. At the institutional level, many universities in Spain offer additional free Spanish lessons to the refugees during the semester. Several universities have implemented research grants to researchers and students, as well as administrative support. Spanish universities also offer various kinds of socio-emotional support systems. The University of Valencia, for example, has established a psychological care service for recent arrivals, in collaboration with Psychologists Without Borders.

France has also taken several measures to ease the enrolment of Ukrainian students in their higher education systems at both institutional and national level. Cité Universitaire of Paris has organised the Virtual House of Ukraine, for example, which is a website dedicated to Ukrainian arrivals at the university. It aims to help them with administrative procedures, access to medical and sports facilities, and to connect them with their new peers. France has also eased the registration and RPL procedures among establishments, and implemented additional French language courses, scholarships, and emergency financial aid schemes. Campus France, a public institution in charge of promoting French higher education abroad and welcoming foreign students and researchers, has set up several initiatives for Ukrainian students at national level, such as a frequently asked questions (FAQ) information site, psychological support services and an academic guidance and professional orientation centre.

Many host countries offer financial aid to Ukrainian refugees who wish to enter higher education systems. In Germany, Ukrainian students with refugee status are eligible to apply for German state educational support. There is also special funding for research on the war, and/or collaboration with Ukrainian scientists and students. This is provided by the Foundation Innovation in Higher Education Teaching (Stiftung Innovation in der Hochschullehre), who have offered around EUR 2 million so far for selected projects during the academic year 2022/23. The special funding aims to create university teaching, learning and support services for students who would like to continue their studies temporarily, digitally or in person, at a university in Germany, as well as to help Ukrainian scientists and university members. In the United States, several universities, such as the University of Chicago, are providing full tuition scholarships to students affected by the war in Ukraine as well as additional mentoring support.

Many Ukrainian families opted to follow the All-Ukrainian Online School programme in place of attending local schools during the early stages of Russia’s large-scale aggression. As the war continues, however, the importance of registering in national education systems has grown. In cases where children and young people cannot register in national education systems quickly, organisations such as UNICEF have called for the provision of multiple pathways to learning, including providing access to online learning opportunities (UNICEF, 2023[18]).

The Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science created an online distance and blended-learning platform in response to COVID restrictions in 2020, the All-Ukrainian Online School. It has since been mobilised in response to the forced displacement and the disruption of Ukrainian children’s education and is now considered as a tool to encourage students to continue their link with the Ukrainian education system (Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, 2023[19]). The All-Ukrainian Online School offers distance and blended-learning for children in primary and secondary school, as well as methodological support for teachers. The platform is available online and through mobile applications, and includes video lessons, tests and materials for independent work in a range of subjects, including Ukrainian literature and language, biology, history, maths, and English. In collaboration with UNICEF, information on the organisation of the All-Ukrainian Online School has been translated into 12 European languages (Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, 2023[19]).

Access to digital technologies can be very valuable for refugees and can help them to overcome feelings of isolation, find peer support and stay connected with family. It can also provide access to valuable education opportunities, particularly in the tertiary education sector (UNHCR, n.d.[20]). These may be additional positive side effects for host countries providing remote learning opportunities to Ukrainian refugees.

Only 15 countries responded to the section on remote learning in the OECD Survey on Ensuring Continued Learning of Ukrainian Refugee Students. This is possibly because remote learning is a complex topic to track and measure, and because most countries have focused on enrolling these children in their national systems. Among those countries which did respond to this section of the survey, the most common way in which children were following the Ukrainian curriculum remotely was through individual access to the All-Ukraine virtual platform in formal school settings and institutions. In contrast, countries rarely reported arranging separate collective classes or organised facilities to follow the online curriculum outside of formal schools or other settings. Most countries reported that children were partially following the curriculum, with only Lithuania reporting that upper secondary students were following the curriculum in full.

Luxembourg strongly advises parents that children should follow remote learning on an extra-curricular basis, and they should encourage them to maintain their ties and links to their language and culture. In the summer of 2022, the Education Ministry organised online national secondary leaving exams for Ukrainian students in their last year of secondary education. Students were provided with extra equipment such as keyboards with Cyrillic characters. In Hungary, public institutions provided digital infrastructure, as well as a learning environment and teaching aids for families who have not applied for temporary protection and requested short-term help to continue their children’s education.

In Romania, local authorities have supported the creation of “educational hubs” in several schools across the country, allowing Ukrainian children to benefit from the educational platforms provided by the Ukrainian Ministry of Education. Teachers have also had the opportunity to follow Teaching and Learning in Difficult Times, an online programme offered by the British Council in collaboration with UNICEF and the International Organisation for Migration, to support children affected by emotional trauma caused by war.

Some countries, such as Switzerland, reported that many Ukrainian students who were beyond compulsory education age – corresponding to upper secondary education – choose to follow the online Ukrainian curriculum rather than integrate into the national school system. Some countries also expressed concerns about children following the online curriculum in parallel with formal education, resulting in a double workload. Although Lithuania is supportive in providing measures and adjustments to accommodate remote learning, it highlights that full remote learning is not recommended by health specialists for younger learners, and so online learning is only partly integrated for primary and lower secondary school students.

Other common measures to support Ukrainian students in following the Ukrainian curriculum include the recruitment of Ukrainian-speaking teachers or assistants, the provision of computers and equipment, online resources in Ukrainian, and timetable adjustments. These measures were almost equally applied across primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education according to the survey. Some measures were not reported at upper secondary level, but this may be because upper secondary is not compulsory for those countries.

Lithuania reported taking all of the measures identified in the survey. All equipment needed to follow the online courses is provided for free of charge. Schools have been advised to be flexible over timetable adjustments, and they have enlisted teaching assistants who can support students throughout the process. Equipment provision was the second most popular measure reported among countries responding to the survey.

In the United States, the Ukrainian Refugee Education Initiative at Citizen's High School (a partnership between Citizens High School (USA), Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science, the Embassy of Ukraine in the United States, and the Florida Department of Education), offers complimentary online courses for Ukrainian refugees and displaced persons, taught with Ukrainian translation in Ukrainian grade levels 9-11. This initiative also offers virtual classrooms with dedicated teachers in side-by-side format that allows students to learn in Ukrainian and English simultaneously.

National level refers to policies implemented nationwide and decided by the country authorities.

Institutional level refers to policies implemented by educational institutions themselves, with or without receiving any national guidelines.

Learning space refers to a physical setting for a learning environment, a place in which teaching and learning occur.

Teacher shortage refers to the inability to fill vacancies with individuals qualified to teach in the fields needed.

Vocational education and training refers to VET at upper secondary level only. This may be received in public and private institutions (independent private institutions or government-dependent private institutions).

Remote learning refers to the process of teaching and learning performed at a distance. Rather than having students and teachers coming together in person, remote learning means that students are distanced from their teacher and their peers. In the context of this survey, it relates to the arrangements put in place by the Ukrainian authorities to allow children to follow the Ukrainian curriculum in full or in part.

Figures presented in this chapter only include instances where countries answer "Yes", which means that answers "No", "Not applicable" and "Missing" are excluded. Readers are kindly invited to consult the database on "Ensuring a continued learning for Ukrainian refugees" for further information.

The data underlying this report was produced through the Survey on Ensuring Continued Learning of Ukrainian Refugee Students, conducted by the OECD in February 2023. Designed for government officials responsible for education, the survey collected information on the education policy responses of host countries


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[19] Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine (2023), Presentation of Ukrainian online school for use abroad, https://mon.gov.ua/eng/news/presentation-ukrainian-online-school-use-abroad (accessed on 3 July 2023).

[17] Norris, P., J. Duffy and V. Krasnoshchok (2023), “How universities can help to integrate Ukrainian refugees”, University World News, https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20230321134905902 (accessed on 2 June 2023).

[4] OECD (2023), “What are the integration challenges of Ukrainian refugee women?”, OECD Policy Responses on the Impacts of the War in Ukraine, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/bb17dc64-en (accessed on 2 June 2023).

[13] OECD (2022), “How vocational education and training (VET) systems can support Ukraine”, OECD Policy Responses on the Impacts of the War in Ukraine, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/e8e86ce2-en (accessed on 2 June 2023).

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[8] UNESCO (2019), “Enforcing the right to education of refugees: A policy perspective”, Working Papers on Education Policy, No. 08, UNESECO, https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000366839 (accessed on 2 June 2023).

[20] UNHCR (n.d.), “Teaming up with technology”, in Turn the Tide: Refugee Education in Crisis, UNHCR, https://www.unhcr.org/turnthetide/4-teaming-up-with-technology/ (accessed on 2 June 2023).

[18] UNICEF (2023), 11 months of war in Ukraine have disrupted education for more than five million children, United Nations Children’s Fund website, https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/11-months-war-ukraine-have-disrupted-education-more-five-million-children (accessed on 2 June 2023).

[5] UNICEF (2023), Building Bright Futures: How to Integrate Ukraine’s Refugee Children Through Early Childhood Education and Care, United Nations Children’s Fund, https://www.unicef.org/eca/media/27481/file/How%20to%20integrate%20Ukraine%27s%20refugee%20children%20through%20early%20childhood%20education%20and%20care.pdf (accessed on 2 June 2023).

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