Ukrainian children started the new school year on Friday, September 1, 2023. For the second time in a row, the start of learning took place in wartime, so some of them had to study in underground classes while others had to prepare to flee to shelters from Russian missile and drone threats.
Many people, both at home and abroad, have continued to study online for four years due to Covid plus the Russian attack since February 2022.
Russian airstrikes have destroyed 1,300 schools since President Vladimir Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine, according to data from the UN Children’s Fund, which recorded damage to many other schools.
Education Minister Oksen Lisovyi reported this week that 84% of schools are now equip with operational shelters.
“When he studies online, there is not always a chance to go to a bomb shelter,” said Mariia Doloban, 32, whose 8-year-old son Oleksii started his school year at a new school in the capital Kyiv equipped with a bomb shelter.
would take cover every time the air raid sirens went off.”
Doloban is one of millions of refugees who fled Ukraine, but like many others, he has returned and says he feels better at home than abroad, where his children study remotely or attend local schools.
They left the southern city of Kherson for Thessaloniki in April 2022, but son Oleksii found it difficult at Greek school.
“Whenever I ask him what he does at school, he often says that he sleeps during class because he is bored and doesn’t understand anything,” said Doloban, who found himself moving between cities in Ukraine for a year after leaving Greece and now lives on the outskirts of the capital.
Oleksii told his father, a frontline doctor, via video call that he was worrie about starting school, but he join the other children dancing in the welcome ceremony on their first day.
At another school in Kyiv, 6-year-old Ulas Kyrychenko, bringing new stationery and a neat suit and tie, is eagerly looking forward to learning how the sea makes waves and making friends after spending time as a refugee in Germany in its early days. war.
Her mother, Klarysa Kyrychenko, said she knew when she returned to suburban Kyiv that the shootings and bombings would continue, so she chose the school in an old building with a bomb shelter in the basement.
He protested when his son said he wanted to join the Ukrainian military like his father, who was fighting in the east.
“Russia is a very big country, the biggest country in the world,” Ulas told Reuters, showing the country, along with much smaller Ukraine, on his toy globe at home. “I want us to win.”
In the eastern city of Kharkiv, it took less than a minute for a missile from Russia to arrive – so authorities there had to improvise to get children back to school.
Classrooms have been create in ornate Soviet-era metro stations, some of which have views of the chandeliers on the colonnaded platforms below.
More than 1,000 children will be able to learn directly in the 60 school rooms that have built, said Mayor Ihor Terekhov.
development many parents welcome.
“They will be able to socialize with each other there, find a common language, communicate,” said Iryna Loboda on the Kharkiv street where she was out with her son who was leaving for school.
Not everyone agrees with the plan.
“Children’s safety is the main thing,” said another mother, Tetiana Bondar. “My children will take online classes, although our school offers buses to transfer children to the underground station.”