In response to deliberate Russian attacks that left one in ten Ukrainian schools damaged, Lithuania has launched a long-term initiative to revitalize education in Ukraine. A significant milestone was marked by a creative workshop in Vilnius, initiating the ‘Future School for Ukraine’ project.
The workshop saw active participation from 20 Lithuanian and Ukrainian architecture and education experts, engaging in two days of intense collaboration. Valuable insights were gleaned from numerous sources, including Ukrainian NGOs, schoolteachers, and ministries.
The collaborative effort has given birth to a visionary school concept, which is soon to materialize through an international architectural competition. This competition aims to select the best adaptive design project for Ukrainian schools. The winning project will receive EUR 300,000 for the realization of the best technical school design.
The envisioned school concept encompasses a multifunctional school-hub for 550 children of primary and high school ages. It will also feature stay-in spaces for students and teachers from detached districts, community activities, and psychological rehabilitation premises. Additionally, the school will boast a well-equipped bomb shelter and an innovative approach of utilizing debris as an additional resource for construction.
The existence of a top-quality and 90% ready adaptive school project will provide communities across Ukraine with a valuable tool, saving crucial resources and time in the recovery of Ukrainian education. Moreover, this initiative will streamline and expedite the reconstruction process, making it more attractive for potential donors.
Mustafa Nayyem, the head of the Restoration Agency, emphasized the urgent need for this initiative, stating, “Since February 24 last year, 3,767 educational facilities have been destroyed or damaged in Ukraine due to Russian aggression. Along with the restoration of housing and critical infrastructure, the Agency’s priorities include social infrastructure, especially in de-occupied or most damaged communities. Residents must have access to what they need, including education.”
Lithuania has proactively invited Ukrainian educators, architects, non-governmental organizations, and state institutions to contribute to this transformative endeavour. Over two days, Lithuanian and Ukrainian industry professionals engaged in extensive discussions covering various aspects of the new paradigm of school restoration in Ukraine, including architectural, educational, social, ecological, and economic dimensions.
Rūta Leitanaitė, a member of the board of the Architects Association of Lithuania and coordinator of the “Future School for Ukraine” project, highlighted the importance of understanding Ukraine’s requirements, stating, “Before we outline the tasks for the architectural competition, we need to understand what kind of schools Ukraine wants and needs. We are utilizing the workshop format to engage in these critical discussions.”
We have been working in Ukraine since 2014, so we will use our experience to develop the best solutions that work in the sector,” says Artūras Žarnovskis, Advisor to the Central Project Management Agency and Head of the Co-Create Future of Ukraine programme.
The outcomes of this workshop will set the stage for a set of recommendations and a draft program, forming the basis of the international architectural competition, scheduled for announcement at the end of 2023. This initiative stands as a testament to the collaborative efforts of both nations, aiming to rebuild and empower the educational landscape in Ukraine.
The Central Project Management Agency (CPMA) oversees 14 EU and donor-funded programs, managing 1,500+ projects totalling EUR 16.2 billion. They offer methodological support, run a Competence Centre for Public-Private Partnerships, and share expertise internationally.