International Education Delegation Visits Ukraine to Stand with Country’s Children, Teachers
KYIV, Ukraine―An international delegation of education officials, led by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Education International General Secretary David Edwards, traveled to Ukraine today for visits and meetings with educators, health professionals, United Nations agencies and government partners to inspect the country’s schools and explore what can be done to help children recover and thrive.
“Ukraine is the front line in the fight for democracy and freedom and self-determination,” said Weingarten. “What happens in this war has long-term ramifications for the world and for all freedom- and democracy-loving people.”
“For families, the war has had devastating consequences. We return at the request of the Ukrainian educators because of that commitment to children, to education and to democracy.”
The delegation will visit teacher training sites and childcare centers and meet with the minister of education to assess how the war has impacted kids’ mental health, learning, education infrastructure, vocational education and more.
The four-day visit, organized by Education International and co-hosted by the Ukraine education union TUESWU, will include meetings with representatives from UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Human Rights Watch, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine.
The trip marks the AFT’s fourth visit to the region since the unjust war began 15 months ago, part of the union’s long history of assisting teachers and around the world.
In February, the AFT delivered generators purchased with donations from members and allies to ensure kids and staff at kindergartens and child care centers in Lviv had reliable power after airstrikes targeted civilian infrastructure. Last year, it raised $100,000 from the union’s relief fund and sent hundreds of children’s books to humanitarian and labor groups. In 2014, the AFT contributed to the rebuilding of a teachers’ union building in Kyiv leveled by anti-democratic forces during that year’s Maidan Revolution.
“This war is far from over,” added Weingarten. “But we are already joining together with the free world and calling on our allies to begin the vital project of rebuilding Ukrainian schools.”
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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.