The full-scale war in Ukraine has made adjustments to the educational system in Ukraine. Even children based far from the frontline are under constant threat from Russian air attacks. But while some schools have suspended in-person learning in favor of remote channels such as Zoom, others continue to keep their doors open despite a drastic reduction in student numbers and the risk of a budget deficit. Kyiv Post has spoken to the representatives of schools sticking to different systems to highlight all the obstacles schools are facing nowadays in a war-torn Ukraine.

On Feb. 25, the second day of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukraine’s Ministry of Education announced a two-week vacation.

During this time, officials were tasked with preparing new pedagogical approaches suitable for a war footing. However, unlike the situation with COVID-19, children faced vastly different conditions and it was impossible to settle the issue easily at ministry level.


By this point, many children had already crossed the border into the European Union (EU), while those in Mariupol, Berdyansk, and Kherson found themselves under Russian occupation. Some – in Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mykolaiv, or Chernihiv – experienced constant shelling, while others became internal refugees in other Ukrainian cities.

At the beginning of March, the Ministry of Education tried to resume full-time studying where possible. But most Ukrainian children proceeded with remote learning.

Internally displaced students and pupils received the right to continue distance learning in schools at their place of temporary residence. However, children in the occupied regions found themselves in a far worse situation.

Back in September, the Ministry of Education attempted to resume full-time study (where possible) for the second time.

But it wasn't obligatory for all educational institutions; moreover, parents were allowed to choose the form of education for their children - indoor or remote. Schools were supposed to provide all the necessary conditions.


As the war took hold, many foreigners evacuated their families from Ukraine. This put international education institutions in an unusual position and jeopardized the very existence of international schools.

Students scattered around the world, we operate remotely - Kyiv International School.

Kyiv Post spoke to the Head of Kyiv International School (KIS) Luke Woodruff, to find out how the school has continued to operate in such unprecedented conditions.

The 2022-23 academic year at KIS began online. According to Woodruff, most students and teachers were already in different parts of the globe.

"Right now, we're providing a remote education to students based in Kyiv and other cities around the world. We still have a lot of different nationalities," Woodruff said.





Kyiv International School. 

He added that student numbers decreased significantly from around 800 in 2021 to just 110 in 2022. Despite that, and taking into account the difficult situation that citizens already find themselves. KIS management decided against cutting a single Ukrainian teacher.


"We still have a [well-staffed] team working with students… our school was committed to not firing Ukrainian staff," Woodruff said. "So, for this school year, we kept our entire team. [However] we had to reduce a lot of our overseas teachers. We had more than 70 but now it’s maybe 18."

Managing distance learning fatigue and a budget deficit

Education in Ukraine has faced disruption for more than two years owing to COVID-19 and now the war. According to Woodruff, it has been a period of one major adjustment after another, with children at risk of growing "tired" of distance learning.

Despite KIS students now finding themselves in different parts of the world, the school’s management is extending every effort to stay on the pulse and keep students motivated and with a positive attitude.

"Our school and culture are very supportive, so we regularly talk to students and try to keep everyone motivated."

For a while, the school campus was closed and used for military needs. However, in the second half of the school year, Mr. Woodroof plans to open the school campus back up to on-campus learning in a phase-by-phase approach that incorporates the concept of a community center for those at KIS.

Image provided by the Head of Kyiv International School.


This year, due to a significant reduction in the number of students, KIS will experience a budget deficit and is not earning its usual profit. But Woodruff considers it an investment in Ukraine's future.

"The school will not make money this year. We face a deficit, so we must run into our reserves. But we are doing that as an investment in Ukraine. Despite the chaos, we are celebrating our 30th year in Ukraine and we don't want to go anywhere," Woodruff says, adding that he wants to make sure everyone involved in learning and teaching at KIS knows that the school continues to operate.  

We choose only indoor studying - Oxford Prime Academy.

Kyiv Post has also spoken with other international schools in Kyiv.

In particular, Oxford Prime Academy currently operates regularly - with in-person classes in Kyiv.

This was a fundamental decision taken by the school's management, despite the fact that many parents asked at least to launch a dual system of education - remote and in-person. But the administration of Oxford Prime Academy has chosen exclusively in-person studying.

According to Sofia, the Academy’s administrator, the school places great emphasis on the individuality of each child, looking for a unique approach to each student. Therefore, it would be difficult to stick to such an approach through a computer screen.

Oxford Prime Academy.

"Children up to 11 years of age study at our school. For them, online learning is an even more complex process than for older children. So, we decided to take a chance and launch the school. We decided that it would benefit the children first and foremost," said Sofia, adding that with in-person classes, children won't be constantly sitting at the computer. They will communicate live, and this communication will make it easier for them to survive all these traumatic events.


Even when the air siren is on, the lessons in school aren't suspended. The children go downstairs to the equipped bomb shelter, and classes continue.

According to Sofia, since Russia’s full-scale invasion, there have been three times fewer students in school compared to the previous year (2021). Many have not returned from abroad.

When asked about the profitability of the school, Sofia just smiled. She said that the Academy is trying to at least "to break even" this year.


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