ATA News

Volunteer teachers needed to help Ukrainian students


Volunteer teachers are needed to provide virtual lessons to Ukrainian students who are unable to attend school because it’s too dangerous or they’ve been displaced from their homes.

Smart Osvita is a Ukrainian organization that’s been providing displaced students with virtual learning opportunities since the war in Ukraine began. The organization has been using volunteer teachers from around the world, including Alberta, to fill its ongoing schedule of webinar presentations.

“Unfortunately, for the last three months, we have seen a considerable reduction in prospective volunteers contacting us. We have also experienced a considerable loss of volunteers,” said David Falconer, a principal from Calgary who is the organization’s international volunteer program co-ordinator

The organization normally provides hour-long sessions for five hours each weekday and nine hours on Saturday. Currently it’s only able to provide an average of one lesson per day, Falconer said.

“The quality of the lessons being provided by our volunteers is great. Students are taking advantage of well-planned activities and look forward to meeting our teachers,” he said.

The program is most in need of teachers for math, sciences, English, French and phys-ed (all grade levels). It’s a benefit if teachers can group teach multiple subjects. Teachers can choose the subject(s) and grade level they teach, as well as how often or long they wish to volunteer. A Ukrainian host facilitates each session.

“Teachers would have the same students for every session. Basically, it would be like having a regular class,” Falconer said.

Learning at great risk

While the Ukrainian government has opened schools again, they have warned parents that they can’t guarantee their children’s safety as most schools do not have bomb shelters, Falconer said. Some schools have asked parents to donate funds to build bomb shelters, but this doesn’t seem to be happening. While in school, students are experiencing daily air raid sirens. 

“I can’t imagine how students and school staff can possibly focus on the learning under these circumstances,” Falconer said. “So, children continue to get behind their studies. The level of stress and anxiety is high, so many children and parents are accessing online counseling for support.” 

The majority of the students using the Smart Osvita program are still in Ukraine. Many are connecting from Russian-occupied territories. 

“They are doing this at great risk,” Falconer said.

Ukrainian parents describe these online lessons as an island of normalcy, a lifeline to a world where their children can still dream and have hope,” Falconer said. “From where they are, they don’t want to see this program end.” ❚

How to volunteer

To learn more about the program, contact David Falconer at


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