February 2023

Not even a war can stop Ukrainian teachers

Today marks one year since Russia invaded Ukraine. Since then, millions of children have had their education disrupted.

Today, we are putting focus on the incredible will power and strength of teachers
who not only ensure that Ukrainian children keep learning but also are deeply
committed to their wellbeing.

More than 12 years ago we started our collaboration with the Ukrainian Ministry of Education with the goal to equip Ukrainian children with the skills they need to thrive through playful learning. Since then, we’ve worked with all public primary schools, 300 pre-schools, 35 pedagogical universities and colleges, and all 25 in-service teacher training institutions. Through this work, we’ve reached over 80.000 teachers and 1.5 million students.

The war put a stop to much important work. But even a war cannot stop teachers in Ukraine. Early childhood educator Olga G. tells us that “learning cannot be put on hold, because every day is important in the development of a child. As a teacher, I clearly understand that now is not the time when the educational process can be transferred exclusively to parents, because every family experiences the war in different ways.”

Iryna Morgun, methodologist of the Department of Primary and Preschool Education of the M.V.Ostrogradsky Poltava Academy of Continuing Education says that “now, more than ever, we are motivated to ensure that children receive quality education.” Iryna says she sees the support and development of children, especially their social and civic competences, as the best investment in the future.

Teaching changes during times of crisis

Galyna D., a teacher at Poltava secondary school, tells us that both her approach to teaching but also her understanding of her role as a teacher has changed significantly because of the war. Psychosocial support and the nurturing of social-emotional skills of children have become top priority. 

"Children, first of all, began to need support, warmth, and then education. One of the most important tasks was to support students, parents, and colleagues. For this, first of all, you need to support yourself and your morale. What will the children of war grow up to be? A teacher must do everything to minimize the trauma of war for children. It is necessary to make a lot of effort to return to this generation the motivation to study, and the desire to move and fight despite everything. We are responsible for the future of our children."
Galyna D.

Olga G., ECD educator also highlights the importance of social-emotional skills and making space for this in the classroom:

"It is extremely important for a child to communicate with peers and a teacher. When organizing educational activities in any format, I think through interaction, so that children have the opportunity to play more, communicate, and switch from daily problems to positive and joyful emotions. In this way, I also receive so many positive emotions from communication with children, their successes and small victories. And even now, everyone realizes how important it is to keep the front in its place, and every teacher understands their important mission - to nurture little Ukrainians - the future of our country."
Olga G.

Teachers are people like you and me

Being a source of calm and warmth for students demands a lot from teachers, who themselves are affected by the consequences of the war. Just like the children, the teachers themselves need support in coming to terms with their new role as well as psychosocial support.

Throughout the year, LEGO Foundation colleagues have collaborated closely with teachers across Ukraine to support ongoing training sessions that focus on using play activities to support social-emotional learning and provide psychosocial support to children.


"The war changed our lives, gave us many challenges, and we were not prepared for it. Now, the teacher constantly has to look for ways to overcome them, so it is extremely important now to continue learning and share experiences with like-minded colleagues. Every day we learn new ways to interact with children, change priorities, and look for new resources and the most effective approaches in education. And, most often, it is children who help to find the most optimal options during active interaction with them. During the war, approaches to educational activities changed a lot. Ensuring the social and emotional well-being of children has become important. Also, interaction with the pupils’ parents, their support, and a better understanding of reality became more significant. For example, there were cases when the parents were sure that they distanced the child from the negativity associated with the war and the child had no psychological problems, but in the institution, the children showed aggressiveness, fear, started crying, etc. during a game. Such cases encourage us to study age psychology more thoroughly and to cooperate with psychologists in order to help the child and family as much as possible. Our children will be resilient, adaptable to any conditions, flexible but purposeful and strong. They grow up with a keen sense of justice, patriotism, national consciousness, an appropriate attitude to their native language, culture, traditions, and concern for other people and Ukraine. There is no doubt that psychological support and the creation of conditions for well-being are important now. We hope the children will return to a normal, peaceful life as quickly as possible." - Galyna D., primary school teacher

What the LEGO Foundation is doing to support children in Ukraine

At the LEGO Foundation, we have a long-standing partnership with Ukraine to bring learning through play to children across the country. We stand in deep solidarity with the people of Ukraine - in particular our partners, staff and their families, and with all Ukrainian children at this terrible time of war. Over the last year, we have supported the provision of emergency assistance as well as supported schools and teachers. And we will continue to support the rehabilitation and rebuilding of the education system in Ukraine.

Last week, on 16 February 2023, during the International Forum "Pedagogical elite of Ukraine: value orientations" held at the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, we handed over the first laptops to the In-Service Teacher Training
Institutions. Through our grant, 300 laptops will be distributed to Ukrainian education institutions, enabling educators and students to ensure access to and the continuity of online learning.

In the meantime, the LEGO Foundation together with the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES) has started the national rollout of a mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) module, developed by MHPSS Collaborative and aimed at preschool and primary school teachers in Ukraine.

We’re further supporting UNICEF’s work in the border regions between Ukraine and Romania and Moldova, where they have created Blue Dot Hubs and Play, Learning, and Parenting Centres with the aim to provide comfort and assistance to the children and families who need it the most along the major escape transit routes.