War in Ukraine: ETUCE Solidarity missions to Poland, Romania and Moldova


From 3 to 5 and 16 to 19 May 2022 ETUCE under the lead of its President, Larry Flanagan, and the European Director, Susan Flocken, went on mission to Poland, Romania, and Moldova to collect first-hand experiences from its member organisations hosting refugees from the Ukraine and to identify funding needs. The high-level delegation also met with Education and Employment Ministers, education institutions, teachers and other stakeholders that are working in the frontline to help Ukrainian refugees. The mission underscored the critical role of education trade unions and the enormous efforts teachers, academics and other education personnel have demonstrated to provide support.

Since the beginning of the military invasion by the Russian Federation on the Ukraine in February 2022 , almost 7 million Ukrainian residents have been displaced, fleeing the war zone to the neighbouring countries. Most of them fled to neighbouring EU Member States – such as Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary, as well as to non-EU countries such as Moldova and Russia. The majority of refugees seeking shelter are women with children and the demands on the education sector to ensure access to quality education are significant. Member organisations mentioned in particular, the issues of teacher shortage and lack of education personnel with Ukrainian language as a challenge, while employment of Ukrainian teachers in hosting countries remains difficult, as positions available in the labour market of hosting countries often do not match their education degrees or professional sector.

European Director Susan Flocken thanked the ETUCE member organisations who are hosting refugees and colleagues in the Ukraine for their great efforts, resilience, and perseverance. They are doing their utmost in supporting displaced Ukrainian residents, collecting donations, providing accommodation and addressing their basic needs, cooperating with the authorities and civil society, lobbying the government to amend the legislation.

The insufficient funding in education is apparent also in the lack of ICT tools and education equipment available while the majority of the Ukrainian children coming to Poland, Romania and Moldova, continue following the Ukrainian online tuition and therefore, require ICT equipment and good internet connectivity. Another persisting challenge evident in all three countries is the issue around registration and tracking systems of refugees: numerous Ukrainian families consider these countries as transit countries or plan to return to Ukraine as soon as it is possible and therefore, do not enrol their children in the local education system. In fact, a growing number of Ukrainian refugees are already returning to their country now.

The ETUCE delegation met with policymakers, education trade unions and trade union confederations, European Commission Representations and visited numerous refugee centres, schools and universities which are integrating Ukrainian students. The delegation called for greater effort for social dialogue between the government and education trade unions in Poland, Romania and Moldova and stronger targeted support, including financial sustainability, for education systems and education personnel who are doing everything possible to ensure that all Ukrainian children can feel safe and continue their education.



2022 ETUCE Solidarity missions to the neighbouring countries of Ukraine