Minister of Education: Over 11,000 children from eastern and central Ukraine received psychological and social support in last six months


Kyiv, July 3, 2015. For the last six months, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine championed the joint project of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and with the National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” called “Improvement of the psychosocial responses to children and families in eastern and central regions of Ukraine”. “Our psychologists primarily cooperate with children of school and preschool age. Special rehabilitation programs that deal with adaptation and reintegration of children are ongoing. These are based on educational institutions in eastern and central regions of Ukraine. Over 11,000 thousand children have received the care over the last six months,” noted Serhiy Kvit, Minister of Education of Ukraine, at the press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

According to Serhiy Bognadov, Professor of psychology at the National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”, the project aims to recover children from posttraumatic stress.

According to UNICEF, 20 percent of children from eastern and central Ukraine witnessed explosions, while another 20 percent saw killings and each tenth child saw bodies of killed soldiers. In Bohdanov’s view, psychologists’ main goal was to immediately decrease intensive reactions following the traumatic stress, decrease children’s hyper-activity and put them on the social adaptation path.

“After two group sessions we have managed to halve the negative consequences of traumatic stress. Project results after six months demonstrated that we succeeded in bringing down the children’s hyper-activity figure from 20 percent to 10 percent. Also, when the project started, 70 percent of children wanted to undergo rehabilitation and engage in social activities. This figure grew up to 85 percent as the project developed” said Bogdanov.

Around 400 psychologists took part in special training sessions to be part of the project. “For the first time we tried to build interaction with children of preschool age using the format of games. Discussion was a preferable format for children of school and high-school age. It helped psychologists to learn and identify children’s needs and develop timely responses,” explained Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine. According to Barbelis, children could get a much-needed psychological support in five regions: Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhia and Dnipropetrovsk.

Vitaly Panok, Director of the Ukrainian scientific-methodic center for practical psychology and social work, said that over 23,000 of families and children affected during events of the Euromaidan as well as subsequent military action in eastern Ukraine. “I believe that psychological and social service is one of the essential care methods,” said Vitaly Panok.

Panok suggested expanding the program’s geography from five regions to the rest of Ukraine. He also suggested special psychological trainings for schoolteachers and parents as well as to publish methodical recommendations in forms of brochures or books for psychologists.

Psychology Faculty is being currently set up based on the premises of the National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”. “Firstly, we are planning to develop a curriculum for psychologists practitioners who would be able to apply their knowledge and skills to affected families immediately after they finish their studies,” noted Andriy Meleshevych, President of the National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”.

Experts are keen to create an additional program for rehabilitation of war veterans. “Unfortunately, Ukrainian psychologists never had a first-hand experience of treating post-war traumas. Therefore, we are intensively preparing specialists; hence, when the combat actions come to an end, we would be able to provide quick and professional aid to Ukrainian servicemen,” Meleshevych concluded.