On September 1, the new school year began not only for children in areas free from fighting but also for children living in the ATO zone. No matter how hot the situation at the frontline is, children must get education. The fighting causes difficulties for both schoolchildren and teachers in the east.
Kyiv, September 8, 2016. On September 1, all 589 schools started work in Donetsk region. They educate more than 150,000 children. Of these, almost 8,000 go to schools in the so-called “gray zone”. There are currently 41 schools there. This was stated by Nadiya Oksenchuk, Director of Education and Science Department, Donetsk Regional Civil-Military Administration, at Ukraine Crisis Media Center(via Skype) within the project “Spokesperson of peaceful life”, supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Nadiya Oksenchuk noted that this year there are more pupils in frontline schools – many displaced families returned to their homes. “If school in Avdiivka had about 600 pupils last year, this year there are almost three times more – about 1,800,” she said.
Children in front-line cities also started school
Nadiya Oksenchuk noted that this year they had managed to partially solve the problem with pupils in the settlements directly on the contact line, such as Mayorsk, Zhovanka and Bakhmutka.
“Until recently, they could not get education at all or they got it in the occupied territories because these are divided villages and cities. This year we have a huge achievement – children from these areas are now educated on the territory controlled by Ukraine – in Bakhmut boarding school and the city school. Every time they go by bus, accompanied by the military,” said Ms. Oksenchuk.
However, some children continue to go to school in Mykytivka, controlled by the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”). She added that frontline local governments cooperate with the corresponding agencies and several international organizations on safety in schools.
New technologies help children receive education
Pupils from the temporarily occupied parts of the region can get Ukrainian education remotely through a special online platform. For this purpose five schools in different cities have been selected, that children can register at.
“Remote education will be systematic, even though in online mode. Therefore classes, teachers, subjects and program materials will be neatly organised. Teachers will be paid extra for such lessons,” explained Nadiya Oksenchuk. Last year, 1,800 pupils enjoyed this opportunity. Currently, more than 2,500 children have already registered, and the registration continues.
School education system reform
A launch of supportive schools is in active preparation (schools that service several villages). According to the plan, each consolidated territorial community will have its own supportive school. At this stage there are 21 such schools. But additional schools will appear as the new communities are organsied. This restructuring will improve the quality of education.
Government plans to repair and reconstruct these schools. The cost of repair of one school is no less than UAH 25 million; in some cases – up to UAH 50-60 million. The renovated schools will be equipped with modern natural sciences and computer science rooms, language laboratories and sports grounds. School buses will be purchased through ProZorroo system (online public procurement software – UCMC note).
There no statistics on the situation in 10 higher educational institutions of Donetsk region available. However, noted Ms. Oksenchuk, it is known that this year 200 students from the temporarily occupied territories have enrolled in these universities.