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Ensuring Continuity in Learning: Addressing Education Challenges in Ukraine – The Right to Education In Emerge
Opening Remarks as Delivered by Ambassador Michèle Taylor
July 12, 2023

Ensuring Continuity in Learning: Addressing Education Challenges in Ukraine – The Right to Education In Emergencies

HRC 53 Side Event

Opening Remarks as Delivered by Ambassador Michèle Taylor

Good afternoon, everyone. I want to start by expressing my sincere gratitude to Matthew, Andrea, and all our esteemed colleagues gathered here today. It’s an honor to participate in an event that underlines the importance of educational continuity in Ukraine amidst a backdrop of great adversity.

As President Biden has made clear, the United States will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine, for as long as it takes. This support extends to every corner of Ukrainian society, but today, we especially acknowledge Ukraine’s children, the young souls whose future is cruelly threatened by the war that Russia has imposed on their nation.

This is a war that has shattered lives, decimated homes, and turned innocent classrooms into rubble. A war where children who should be studying mathematics, science, and literature instead learn lessons of survival and resilience. Russia alone bears responsibility for this devastation. Only Russia can make the choice to end this war.

I am deeply moved by the resilience demonstrated by Ukraine’s children, their teachers, and their families. Their spirit of hope shines through the darkness. However, they should not be compelled to endure such hardships. Children deserve carefree days filled with learning, laughter, and dreams. But today, these simple aspects of life have been denied to them.

We cannot, and will not, accept this. The United States stands proud in our commitment to support the community of education in Ukraine. Why? Because education represents the seeds of future equality and prosperity. It provides protection for our children, safeguards them against exploitation and abuse. It is a nurturing force, an investment into a more peaceful and productive tomorrow.

In times of crisis, the sanctuary of a classroom becomes even more vital. A school is not just a place of learning; it is a safe haven for exploration, friendship, and growth. But today, these sacred spaces in Ukraine are under threat.

Since 2017, the United States has been a proud contributor to the “Education Cannot Wait” initiative. We have invested over $150 million into this UN fund dedicated to education during emergencies and protracted crises, with many of these resources directed to Ukraine and to the region, a testament to our unyielding commitment to the nation’s future.

We are supporting programs using the Safe Healing and Learning Spaces methodology and those that provide psychosocial support, and social emotional learning to help provide stability to children. We are striving to breathe life back into war-damaged schools and offering displaced children the teaching and learning materials they need.

But today, we gather here to listen, learn, and act. I look forward to hearing from out distinguished panelists. Their experiences, insights, and recommendations are invaluable. They will help shape the strategies and policies needed to ensure Ukraine’s children continue their education, continue their dreams, despite Russia’s war that rages around them.

And this is the challenge I leave with all of us today: Let’s do more. Let’s build on our collective efforts, championing the cause of education in emergencies. Because the stakes could not be higher. The future of an entire generation hangs in the balance, and it is up to us to tip the scales towards hope, resilience, and recovery.

I thank you.