Laptops give Ukrainian children a lifeline to education

Marcharyta Boichuk and and her mother Iryna Polova sit together on a park bench.
Margerita Boichuk and her mother Iryna Polova recently received a new laptop to support Margerita's learning. Photo: Theirworld / Robert Wilk

The Digital Equity for Ukraine initiative is a $30 million partnership and device donation by HP to the Global Business Coalition for Education with Microsoft providing software for the devices.

Like millions of other Ukrainian children, Margerita Boichuk, 11, hasn’t just had her life turned upside down by the war, but her education.

On just the third day of the Russian invasion in February, she fled her home in Chortkiv in southwest Ukraine with her mother Iryna and sister.

“It was dangerous to stay in our town. Sirens sounded, shelling began, aircraft and rockets flew,” she said.

Her family went straight to Poland, where they are still living in the eastern town of Nowa Dęba. After a period without any education at all, she started at a Polish school, but lost contact with teachers and friends back home.

Now, thanks to a brand-new laptop, she is not only communicating with friends in Ukraine but learning remotely with teachers in her hometown school.

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Photo of student Marcharyta Boichuk using her new laptop.

“I can’t imagine my life without a computer, I communicate, do my homework, play cartoons for my sister.”

Margerita, 11

Margerita received the laptop as part of the Digital Equity for Ukraine initiative, a $30 million partnership and device donation by HP to the Global Business Coalition for Education, an initiative of Theirworld, with Microsoft providing software for the devices. The partnership enables the Global Business Coalition for Education to work in cooperation with local charitable organizations to distribute 74,000 laptops to schools, teachers and other people in need, both inside Ukraine and in neighboring countries.

She and her family were among the first to receive their laptop from Fundacja Q (Foundation Q), a Polish charity which has so far distributed 500 laptops among Ukrainian refugees in Poland, and 900 to schools, municipal authorities, and charities in Ukraine.


Laptops help young people from Ukraine, and their parents, sleep more peacefully. They can contact their fathers back home, they can contact their friends. And they can do many beautiful and fantastic things, just like children who haven’t experienced war. Each of these laptops goes to a child who needs it. It goes where it is needed most.

Marcin Kurnick, President of Fundacja Q,

Marcin Kurnick, President of Fundacja Q, recently travelled to the border with Ukraine to transfer to laptops to officials from Chortkiv. The town’s mayor, Volodymyr Shmatko, was overjoyed.  “He called me to say, ‘it’s unbelievable, I don’t believe it, that we can bring brand new laptops to our children, our citizens’.”

Chortkiv’s largest school was badly damaged in June when four long-range rockets were launched by Russia at targets nearby. After spending thousands on repairing windows and doors, it is open again, albeit after the construction of shelters from air raids, which remain a constant threat.

The war has caused nearly one-third of Ukrainians to flee their homes, according to the United Nations. Ukraine says more than 2,000 educational institutions have been hit by bombs or shelling, leaving millions of students learning remotely in their own country or in neighboring states

Fundacja Q staff and volunteers load trucks with laptops for delivery to students and teachers in Ukraine.

Fundacja Q staff and volunteers load trucks with laptops for delivery to students and teachers in Ukraine.

Mr Shmatko profusely thanked all involved with the initiative: “Your help is invaluable to our community. From the bottom of my heart, on behalf of all the people you have helped, I say ‘thank you.’”

He continued: “Everyone is doing everything in their power for the fastest possible victory. As for education, we are doing everything possible so that even during the war, children have the opportunity to study.”


Companies Supporting Education

Michele Malejki, Global Head of Social Impact at HP, said: “Access to technology is a key enabler of better education and economic outcomes. That’s why we are working with the Global Business Coalition for Education to put devices in the hands of displaced students and families as part of a holistic approach to empowering them.”

Kate Behncken, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Philanthropies, said: “Since the war began in February, Microsoft has provided technology support to the government and people of Ukraine, and this latest effort is an extension of our support.

“Putting laptops in the hands of Ukrainian children helps them to continue their education, stay in contact with loved ones, and dream of a better tomorrow, even in the direst circumstances.”

Within Ukraine, large-scale distribution has begun in the Luhansk and Chernihiv regions, with the assistance of the Olena Zelenska Foundation, the charity of Ukraine’s First Lady, and the Ukraine House Foundation.

Justin van Fleet, President of Theirworld and Executive Director of GBC-Education, said: “When conflicts break out, or disasters happen, children and youth are always among the most vulnerable, and their education always suffers.

This partnership has brought together global business brands, GBC-Education and local non-profits working on a common mission to create change and promote education through digital equity for young people – and their families – who have been caught up in this terrible war in Europe. It shows that business can deliver really meaningful programs to children in emergencies and help restore a sense of normality to their lives.

Justin van Fleet, President of Theirworld and Executive Director of GBC-Education

Returning to School and Work

Markian Cybulski, 16, from Horodok near Lviv, missed out on several weeks of education even though his part of the country was less affected by the conflict than others. He has had to adapt to learning via a mixture of in-school and remote lessons, and to having school days regularly broken up by air raid sirens.

The laptop has, he said, been invaluable in remote lessons, allowing him to email teachers and carry out research.

Markian, 16, and his mother, Tetiana, using their donated laptop in their town Gródka Jagiellońskiego, Western Ukraine

“When I received the laptop I was so happy because now it has given me so many opportunities for education. We are so grateful for such opportunities.”

Markian Cybulski, 16

The laptops are not only providing children with a vital connection to their home country and the wider world, they also allow Ukrainian teachers who have fled to continue teaching students from Ukraine, whether they are in the country or not.

Alina Kureliuk fled her home city Dubno with her two boys, Myroslav, 13 and Arman, nine, and the family dog, soon after the war started.

They arrived in Poland with whatever they could carry and were greeted by an acquaintance at the border, who had arranged accommodation. “Everything happened like in a movie,” she said.

Alina, a French teacher back home, took any job she could find to pay for housing and the children’s needs. But the cost of a laptop was way out of reach until Fundacja Q provided her with one of the Digital Equity for Ukraine devices.


I can continue to give online French lessons [to children from her old school]. This has greatly simplified my working conditions, while the children can attend online lessons.

Alina Kureliuk

“My eldest son is in the eighth grade and has a huge number of tasks. His grades have started improving, because he can prepare different presentations and prepare better for classes,” Alina elaborated.

“We are infinitely grateful to all the people who responded to our trouble, who help us survive our great pain and do so many good things for us.”

By enabling contact with family, friends, teachers and the outside world, the laptops do more than help with education, they give the young people using them some optimism about the future.

“I hope that the war will end as soon as possible,” said Margerita. “I believe in the future of my country, I dream of going back to school.”

Markian added: “My biggest dream is for this war to end as soon as possible. I hope that my country will develop, and I will do my best to make it happen. And everything that was destroyed, we will rebuild, and it will look amazing.”


Support the Digital Equity for Ukraine initiative.

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Anatoly, 9, is one of thousands of Ukrainian students who have received a new laptop for school as part of our “Support the Digital Equity for Ukraine” initiative.

This giving season, please contribute to the Global Business Coalition for Education and support our work to end the global education crisis, including in humanitarian emergencies.

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