Every child, young person and student has the right to a safe learning environment free from discrimination, also at the time of the Ukrainian crisis

Russia's attack on Ukraine is a condemnable and shocking human tragedy that touches us all deeply.

Minna Kelhä

Kaksi poikaa koulun käytävällä selin kameraan.

Many of us may have friends, partners or family members in Russia or Ukraine. Some children and young people may also currently be extremely worried about the well-being of loved ones who live in the areas affected by the crisis. There are also many Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian children, pupils and students in Finland. A war this close to our country can instil anxiety and fear in each one of us. We all need each other’s support.

Worryingly, it has come to our knowledge that the situation has inspired fear of bullying as well as hate speech and discrimination among children, young people and students in Finland. Let’s be very clear about this: no child, young person or student should be blamed for Russia's attack on Ukraine, regardless of their nationality or mother tongue. In the current situation it is up to us all to ensure a safe learning environment free from discrimination for every learner, whatever their background.

The past few years have been very stressful and difficult as the coronavirus pandemic has affected our daily lives for a long time. The crisis in Ukraine further increases this stress. Believing in a better future and taking care of your personal coping are now more important than ever. In addition to homes, early childhood education and care, schools and educational institutions play a particularly important role in maintaining a sense of security in children, young people and students and supporting their belief in future. This makes the work carried out in these environments invaluable. In this respect, we encourage every education and training professional to rely on their own community and its support. 

A large part of our work at the Finnish National Agency for Education involves promoting internationalisation, and the ongoing crisis also touches us and our stakeholders in this field very deeply. We will make every effort to support our colleagues working with internationalisation, Finnish people who have gone abroad through international programmes, and foreigners who have arrived in Finland. The situation is changing constantly and the questions it raises are not simple, but for our part, we will provide instructions for those doing this work as quickly as we can. At the same time, we will offer support for education providers in Finland.

Blog author

Minna Kelhä
Minna Kelhä
Director General, the Finnish National Agency for Education