The European Union is allocating EUR 15 million to build new school shelters in Ukraine. Lithuania is contributing an additional EUR 0.5 million and taking responsibility for implementing the project.
Katarína Mathernová, Ambassador of the European Union to Ukraine said: “Russia’s war of aggression is robbing thousands of Ukrainian children of a normal life and education. Our most recent initiative underlines the EU’s unwavering commitment to ensure an educational environment that is as safe as possible for all children in Ukraine.”
With the Russian aggressor's targeted destruction of schools, kindergartens, and other educational institutions, one in seven Ukrainian schools has so far been damaged or destroyed. Around 1.6 million schoolchildren and 0.2 million kindergarteners are out of school or preschool, and around 900,000 children declare to study remotely.
The bomb shelter initiative is another example of the European Union’s support of Ukraine’s education sector. It also extends Lithuania's and CPVA's rebuilding efforts in support of Ukraine.
The EU project prioritizes Ukraine's regions that are currently suffering the most – Chernihiv, Sumy, Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhya, Kharkiv and Odesa. It is planned to build at least 5 next to school shelters in these frontline regions.
All shelters will be underground, close to the schools, and with radiation protection. Planned for 1,000 people they will have an area of about 2,000 square meters. The new shelters will not only protect from attacks – built as underground schools, they will also allow children to continue learning and participating in extracurricular during air raids.
Russia's brutal attacks on civilians are an attempt to break the will of Ukrainians to resist. But Ukraine has repeatedly proven, that it is not the will to resist that they lack, but the weapons. The western partners must understand the importance of military aid and civilian protection funding for Ukraine", says Gabrielius Landsbergis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania.
"Our ambition is to get as many children as possible back to school. To do that, safe shelters must be built in the vicinity, meeting the latest requirements. So that children and teachers can not only shelter from bombs but also continue their lessons and activities during unfortunately regular air raids," said Rasa Suraučienė, Deputy Director of the CPVA
For schools in Ukraine to be operational it is obligatory to have a shelter or at least an equipped basement. There are over 13,000 schools in Ukraine, 3,500 of which do not have these necessary wartime facilities.
Together with the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Restoration of Ukraine, CPVA has selected schools with the largest number of students and lacking minimal shelter facilities. The construction of shelters for these schools will be the only missing link in the school-shelter-offline education chain, allowing about 5,000 students to return to offline studies in a year and a half perspective.
Lithuania finances rebuilding Ukraine projects through the Fund for the Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid. Seeking to help Ukrainian children return safely to educational institutions, the Fund supported the reconstruction of a kindergarten in Irpine in 2023, the ongoing reconstruction of the Lyceum in Borodyanka, the preparation of a technical design for Future School for Ukraine, and funds other initiatives.