Exactly three months after President von der Leyen's announcement in her 2022 State of the Union Address, the European Commission and the Government of Ukraine have signed a €100 million support package for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of schooling facilities damaged in Russia's full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine. Support will reach Ukraine through the EU's humanitarian partners and partly as budget support to the Government of Ukraine.
The European Commission has allocated around €14 million from an ongoing contract with the Polish Development Bank “Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego” to purchase school buses and bring Ukrainian children safely to school. The Commission has also launched an EU-wide solidarity campaign to donate school buses for Ukraine, channelled through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Overall, around 240 buses are now on the way from the EU and its member states. More are coming.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, said: “Russia's targeted attacks against civilian infrastructure, especially as winter grips the country, are a deliberate crime against millions of innocent people. And they are a gross violation of international law. The EU's top priority is to bring back as soon as possible Ukrainian children back to school. Today we are delivering on our promise to support the rehabilitation of schools damaged and destroyed by Russia's brutal war. And by early 2023, we will also deliver school buses for Ukraine so children can actually travel to school in the best possible conditions. The future of Ukraine begins with its children back in schools.”
First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska said: “I am grateful to the European Commission, and President Ursula von der Leyen in particular, for supporting the restoration of Ukrainian schools. Today, less than a third of children in Ukraine have possibility to regularly attend a school. The rest have to study online or in a hybrid format. Due to constant shelling and blackouts, it becomes increasingly difficult. For my Foundation, the restoration of the educational process is a priority. Education of our children today is our contribution to the common European future.”
The €100 million assistance package includes:
- €34 million in humanitarian aid, out of which €20 million channelled through the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and €14 million through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). This support will focus on light and medium repairs including repairs of windows, roofs, doors, sanitation and heating facilities, as well as providing classroom equipment in learning spaces and bomb shelters.
- €66 million to be provided directly to the Ukrainian government as budget support.
The Commission will work together with the Ukrainian government and the Olena Zelenska Foundation. The Commission expects to disburse the €66 million of budget support in the next few weeks. UNOPS and UNDP have started the damage assessment of the facilities to rehabilitate on the ground. A majority of the educational facilities that will benefit from this grant are expected to be repaired, between December 2022 and September 2023, in time for the start of the next school year.
In the case of the €14 million EU grant for school buses Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego will work with its partner on the ground, the Solidarity Fund Poland, to procure the buses in early 2023.