Fleeing Ukraine: a FRA Report


A recent report on Ukrainian refugees in European Union member states allows for a better assessment of the profile of displaced Ukrainians and can be used as a means to identify the policies to better support refugees and displaced people from Ukraine and other countries. The report also addresses challenges for education policy.

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)  published, on the 28 February 2023, a report presenting the findings of its online survey of displaced people from Ukraine. The report, titled “Fleeing Ukraine: Displaced people’s experiences in the EU“, was answered by over 14,000 respondents and covers the 10 EU countries that host a large number of people under temporary protection – Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain.

The issue of education must be urgently addressed as it is key for the inclusion, well-being, and development of Ukrainian refugees. Indeed, despite various efforts and policy responses on European and national level, the FRA findings show that Ukrainian refugees still face many problems in accessing education in the hosting countries. Indeed, less than half of those who had been in education shortly before leaving Ukraine had continued their education. Most of them answered that this was due to the fact they completed their education, but also due to their inability to speak the language of the host country (20%), to the fact that they had to care for a relative (12%) or that they could not afford to pursue their education (9%).  

Overall, 7 in 10 students attended school or university in the host country, and 6 out of 10 attended online education with a Ukrainian school or taught themselves using materials/with support from Ukraine. Of the displaced children not attending school, the survey showed that the lack of technological resources to follow schooling, not having steady accommodation, not being accepted by a school, and financial issues were the main reasons for this.

Furthermore, many respondents indicated problems concerning their accommodation, including the lack of privacy and room for the well-being of their children. Linguistic barriers are a particularly prevalent problem and affect many areas of the livelihood of Ukrainian refugees. This concern must be swiftly addressed by allowing for more opportunities for refugees to attend language classes as it is one of the main reasons why many Ukrainian respondents chose not to pursue the education in their host country. Secondly, this issue impacts their access to work, with two thirds of respondents indicating not having a paid work at the time. This particularly affects mothers, for whom the responsibility of childcare is an obstacle to working. Moreover, half of the displaced people questioned reported that they often or always have felt depressed since arrival. This is also of grave concern for children, as one in two children indicated they faced difficulties sleeping, concentrating, a loss of confidence and reported a feeling of vulnerability.

The immediate and significant needs expressed in the FRA report mirror the findings of ETUCE’s solidarity missions to Poland, Romania and Moldova (May 2022) and Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (January 2023). Indeed, many challenges mentioned, including linguistic barriers, the need for education personnel who speak Ukrainian, the lack of ICT tools and education equipment, as well as the topics of psychosocial issues and of double schooling, were also brought up by ETUCE member organisations in these countries. ETUCE member organisations point out the need for  teachers teaching the national language as a foreign language as well as the difficult implications for students who are following both the Ukrainian and their host country’s curriculum, which is indeed thecase for many studentsaccording to the FRA survey.

The publishing of this report and its results further emphasize the calls made by ETUCE in the Peace Resolution on Ukraine (2022) for provision of significant investments in education to support and equip teachers and other education personnel as they work to address the diverse needs of migrant students; as well as for governments to ensure that refugees and migrants and their families have access to the labour market and social support systems in the host countries.