During the visit of President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen to Kyiv, a ceremony of handing over school buses took place. As part of the "School Buses for Ukraine" solidarity campaign initiated in the autumn of 2022 by President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska, Ukrainian communities received over 370 school buses.
The ceremony was also attended by Minister of Education and Science Oksen Lisovyi and community representatives. The First Lady expressed her gratitude to the European Commission for the assistance.
"Last year, during my visit to the European Parliament, I talked about this need to Madam President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. And now, Ukrainian communities are receiving over 370 buses. This is a great manifestation of solidarity. This is a direct route to the future of children, both theirs and the whole country, in the midst of war. This is what school buses are, and this is why they are important," the President's wife said.
As part of this campaign, the European Commission purchased 100 buses at a total cost of approximately EUR 14 million. Public and private organizations in EU member countries provided an additional 271 school buses through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism coordinated by the European Commission.
Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, stated, "This brutal war has robbed thousands of Ukrainian children of the innocence of childhood. But it will not deprive them of the bright and happy future they deserve. That's why I'm happy that we can help to take the children of Ukraine to school, safely. Providing over 370 school buses by the European Commission and member states demonstrates our shared commitment to the future generations of Ukrainians."
Olena Zelenska expressed her gratitude to European partners for this valuable contribution to education and supporting children in Ukraine. The delivered buses will be distributed among six regions affected by Russian aggression: Kyiv, Sumy, Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Lviv, and Chernihiv.
"The need for buses still exists. Currently, we lack approximately 2,100 buses, including more than 200 units of transport for children with disabilities. Therefore, partner assistance is extremely important for Ukrainian communities and students," Minister of Education and Science Oksen Lisovyi said.
Olena Zelenska also mentioned that among the new buses, there are inclusive ones equipped with lifts for students who use wheelchairs. This will help ensure access to education for all Ukrainian students.
"I wish the communities that receive them to make good use of these buses. Our children endure all the hardships of wartime with resilience and have the courage to learn. So, we need create the best conditions for them. It's our duty," Olena Zelenska said.