Online lessons help refugee Denys keep in touch with Ukraine

Denys Ivanyuk is learning at his new school in Northern Ireland and through the Stay With Ukraine programme

A project supported by Theirworld means hundreds of Ukrainian children whose families fled abroad can continue their studies and talk to other refugee students.


When Denys Ivanyuk fled the war in Ukraine with his mother Iryna, they ended up in a small town in Northern Ireland. 

The 12-year-old now goes to school in Magherafelt. But at weekends he continues his Ukrainian studies online, thanks to a project called Stay With Ukraine – implemented by the NGO Smart Osvita with the support of Theirworld and the Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education). 

The lessons in Ukrainian language, literature and history help refugee children like Denys stay in touch with their homeland and talk to other Ukrainian students in different countries. The coursework also helps them to deal with stress and loneliness. 

Denys said: “I like the classes, especially history. But all the teachers are cool, kind, easy to deal with and explain well. I especially like the sense of humour of some teachers.” 

600,000+ Ukrainian children are now studying at schools abroad

Smart Osvita was established in 2016 by a group of working mothers who had been campaigning for quality education.

After Ukraine was invaded earlier this year, Smart Osvita created online groups for refugees aged 10 to 17, enabling them to study parts of the curriculum in parallel with Ukrainian schools. 

Of the hundreds of refugees supported, more than 370 are in the United Kingdom. Denys and Iryna, 31, left their home in Zhytomyr and arrived in Northern Ireland in September.  

I like the teachers and their attitude towards children. They motivate them to study, it's very cool

Iryna Ivanyuk

Iryna said: “Denys likes the lessons – there is no need to force him. Even with limited time, he chooses to join the class.” 

Smart Osvita said: “We are happy we have the opportunity to support Ukrainian schoolchildren and unite in such a difficult time.”

Theirworld and GBC-Education’s support for the project is made possible by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery and HP Inc.

GBC-Education is also involved in a separate project to help Ukrainian children with their education. Digital Equity for Ukraine – a $30 million partnership and device donation by HP Inc. to GBC-Education – is distributing thousands of laptops to schools, teachers and other people in need in Ukraine and neighbouring countries.