President Zelenskyy welcomes Theirworld’s support for Ukrainian children

Theirworld's President Justin van Fleet and Chair Sarah Brown meet Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv

Theirworld Chair Sarah Brown outlined plans for accelerated learning programmes and early childhood education when she travelled to Kyiv for a summit hosted by First Lady Olena Zelenska.

Theirworld Chair Sarah Brown outlined plans to expand our education support for Ukraine’s children when she met President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

At the request of the President, Theirworld is working with Ukraine’s government to focus on accelerated learning programmes for science and mathematics, and comprehensive support for early childhood education.

The meeting took place at a summit on mental health hosted by First Lady Olena Zelenska at Saint Sophia’s Cathedral in Kyiv on September 6.

Sarah said: “We all know that it is by forming partnerships that we can identify how best to help and keep the wellbeing of every child at the forefront – we listen, we learn, we deliver.

“By working together, we believe in the Ukraine dream to build a peace one day that will last generations.”

Sarah and Theirworld President Justin van Fleet travelled to Ukraine to attend the Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen. Sarah moderated a panel discussion on children and education – addressing the challenges faced by young Ukrainians and the solutions.

As the summit took place, there were grim reminders of the ongoing war with Russia. Air raid sirens warning of incoming shells sounded in Kyiv and the bombing of a marketplace in the eastern city of Kostiantynivka killed 17 people, including a child, and injured more than 30.

The conflict has severely disrupted education, with more than 1,300 schools destroyed and many more damaged since the Russian invasion in February 2022. Millions of Ukrainians were forced to flee the country.

In a speech at the cathedral, Sarah outlined Theirworld’s ongoing support for Ukrainian children and adolescents. That began last year with a project, working with our Global Business Coalition for Education, to help students and teachers reconnect to learning during the war.

700 refugee students

Reached in 33 countries by Stay With Ukraine programme, supported by Theirworld

She said: “With the support of the tech companies HP and Microsoft, and in collaboration with the Olena Zelenska Foundation, we delivered 70,000 laptops – over 38,000 inside Ukraine and the remaining to refugees in host countries, from Hungary and Poland to Romania, Moldova, Germany and the UK.”

Theirworld has also supported Stay With Ukraine, a programme to help young refugees keep in touch with Ukrainian language, learning and culture while living in other countries. That project is delivered by Ukrainian NGO Smart Osvita and supported by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Sarah added: “We are now working with your government to work together on accelerated learning programmes, heeding the priorities of the President to focus on maths and science to help rebuild Ukraine.

“And we are in discussions with the ministry on comprehensive support for early childhood education, because mental health starts with the youngest children and is cultivated by the teachers and parents they engage with.”

Let us invest in the youngest children ... whose future awaits them in, we hope, a more peaceful Ukraine.

Theirworld Chair Sarah Brown

Sarah paid tribute to First Lady Olena Zelenska, saying: “She even came to meet the President of Theirworld, Justin van Fleet, personally to thank him for Theirworld’s and the Global Business Coalition for Education’s work in distributing laptops and software.

“Her foundation was instrumental in ensuring that over half of the computers went to children and teachers displaced inside Ukraine. We are so grateful and we are determined to do more.”

Justin van Fleet said: “Despite the terror, the resolve and determination of the Ukrainian people is tremendous. We committed to the President and First Lady to continue to do all we can to support the children and youth of Ukraine.

“We will continue our digital equity initiative with HP and, at the request of the President, we will focus on two new priorities – accelerated science and maths education to equip young people to rebuild Ukraine, and a national early years and preschool initiative to support the youngest children prepare for a future of peace and healing.”

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