Education Interrupted: Girls at Risk as Ukraine Conflict Cuts Access to Classrooms

Plan International Canada urges action on one-year mark of Ukraine crisis, as almost 5 million children are deprived of schooling


TORONTO, February 23, 2023 – The war in Ukraine has reached a grim one-year milestone. Plan International Canada, a leading global humanitarian and development organization dedicated to advancing children's rights and equality for girls, is drawing attention to the staggering impact on children's education and the disproportionate effect on girls. According to global data, girls are 2.5 times more likely to be forced out of school in conflict situations. In Ukraine, the numbers are no less alarming, with as many as 4.8 million children currently out of school due to the crisis, and more than one in five schools damaged or destroyed.

Plan International Canada is committed to addressing these challenges and ensuring that all children, regardless of their gender or background, have access to the education and support they need. Through Plan International programs and partnerships, schools offer essential education, protection, and psychosocial support, and help children overcome the profound disruption and trauma caused by the conflict.

The long-term effects of conflict hit girls the hardest, as they are often the first to be pulled out of school, and the last to return, which can greatly hinder their ability to reach their full potential. The crisis has devastated the lives of countless children and families. “The COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 was hard, but I realize that it was nothing compared to what we are going through now. Our lives have been changed forever,” says Amina, a 14-year-old student from Ukraine.

Plan International is working in partnership with over 40 local organizations in Ukraine, Moldova, Poland, and Romania to support overstretched teachers. In Poland, the School with Class Foundation has launched the “Together in the Classroom” program with support from Plan International Canada. The program aims to provide educational resources to teachers to support migrant and refugee students who have experienced conflict and additional challenges. The resource development, supported by Plan International Canada have increased the number of teachers who can confidently assist the influx of new students in times of emergencies.

“Education is a basic human right, and we believe that every girl and child deserves access to education, free from violence and abuse,” says Lindsay Glassco, President and CEO, Plan International Canada. “Schools are much more than just places of academic learning – they can be havens in times of severe conflict, providing stability to children who have experienced unimaginable trauma.”

Plan International is working to rebuild the educational infrastructure in Ukraine, including 75 schools and 25 shelters, directly supporting nearly 40,000 children, adolescents, and their families. With over 3,000 schools destroyed or damaged, there is an urgent need to create safe and comfortable learning environments. Through the repair of roofs, windows, ventilation systems, and replacement of damaged furniture, Plan International is helping to ensure that children have access to the education they require.

With over 15 million people forced to flee their homes in Ukraine, schools can provide a safe harbour for children. “In times of crisis, education can be a lifeline for children,” says Sven Coppens, Ukraine Crisis Response Director, Plan International. “Getting these kids back in school is essential for restoring a sense of safety and routine.”

To date, Plan International has provided critical assistance to more than 250,000 people, but the need for aid is still as urgent as ever. Plan International is supporting thousands of families by creating safe spaces for girls and boys to continue their learning. Canadians can contribute to the ongoing Ukrainian emergency relief efforts by clicking here.


About Plan International Canada

Plan International Canada is a member of a global organization dedicated to advancing children's rights and equality for girls. Plan International has been building powerful partnerships for children for over 85 years and is now active in more than 80 countries. We stand with children, especially girls, wherever they are oppressed, exploited, left behind or not equally valued. We‘re determined optimists, and we will continue to persevere until we are all equal.

Visit for more information and follow @PlanCanada on social media for the latest news.
For further information: Media Contact: Plan International Canada, PR and Communications,

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