First covid, now war. Millions of Ukrainian children have not been able to go to school, meet classmates, and get a quality education for several years. They are relegated to online learning or the fear of having to escape to school shelters and shelters at any moment. The children themselves would like to go back to school — but due to the unclear situation regarding the war, more than half of schools and universities will not open, according to CNN.
Eleven-year-old Zlata spent the entire school year in class for the last time three years ago. In 2020, classes had to switch to online lessons due to the coronavirus pandemic. A year later, she returned to school only briefly before the new wave of coronavirus appeared.
According to the Institute for the Study of War, the pro-Russian authorities in Zaporozhye indirectly declared independence
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Any hope that she would be able to see her classmates again was shattered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
After the start of the war, they left for the West with their parents, but returned to Kyiv in May. However, half of Zlatina’s class is still outside, CNN . writes.
Zlata says she would like to go back to school at the beginning of September. But since the bunker in the school could only accommodate a few children, the situation looked bad at the moment.
Her mother, Hanna, adds that the school will decide in the coming days whether the children will take turns going up to the bunker, or whether online lessons will only continue.
“It is difficult for me as a mother when Zlata is learning from home. She also misses communication with other children, so I would like her to be able to go to school.”
In Irbeni, a suburb of Kyiv, fighting recently destroyed one of the city’s largest schools. Shrapnel hit his roof and shattered all the windows.
The building has already been repaired, and with the help of UNICEF, the school is now reconstructing an anti-aircraft shelter. “We want the children to be safe, not to be afraid, and the parents to be calm,” says school principal Ivan Ptasnik.
“Our schools are not built to withstand attacks,” explains Serhiy Horbachev, Ukraine’s educational ombudsman. According to him, schools usually do not have any means to ensure the safety of children against a possible attack, which is why they quickly try to build shelters and anti-aircraft shelters.
Anna Krasiukova from the ninth grade says that she misses her classmates and teachers. “I really want to go back there. I would like to hug my friends and just talk.”
Standing next to her was a second-grader, Ivan Pinchuk, who had a slightly different wish: “All I want is for Ukraine to win and Putin to die.”
“Children do not learn like regular classes. They also cannot mingle with others and lead a normal life,” says UNICEF Representative in Ukraine Murat Şahin. He shows that communication between the pupils and the adult is necessary, because it gives them the most information – it is difficult to achieve this from a distance.
Despite the fact that they are trying to ensure the safety of their pupils and students, about 59 percent of schools and universities in Ukraine will not open their doors anyway in September. According to Education Minister Sarhaj Shakarlit, no one knows how many children will eventually go to school.
The people of Kyiv do not want to live in fear and limit themselves, as the regional head of People in Need Drbohlav . describes
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“This school year will be difficult. The conditions will be very unpredictable because Russian missiles can hit practically anything”, explains the ombudsman Horbachev.
According to Oksana Matyasova, director of the non-profit educational organization “Teach For Ukraine”, the most important thing is for children to return to their routine, rediscover the value of education and not think about war. He concludes, “War can make them a lost generation.”
The territories occupied by Russia also suffer from education problems. Pinned officials erased the Ukrainian language and history from the school curriculum. Pro-Ukrainian teachers were expelled from the regions or threatened with arrest or death.
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