Ukraine’s school children bear brunt of war as school year starts

Ukrainian children have never experienced such September 1 as this year’s. Many were forced to flee Ukraine due to Russian war and have joined foreign schools. There will be no usual Knowledge Day events for the youngsters who stayed in Ukraine, and most of them will attend classes online due to safety concerns. The situation in the occupied territories is especially worrying in regards to both the teachers’ and children’s safety.

Russian occupation authorities have opened schools despite the close proximity of the war zone and the damage to the school premises. Pressure on parents, threats to teachers, kidnapping of school principals – these are the methods the Russians have used to coerce Ukrainians to study in “Russian” schools. While some willed or were forced to obey, it is the Ukrainian education system many Ukrainians living under occupation have chosen. For instance, 900 first-graders enrolled in Ukrainian schools in temporarily occupied Melitopol, another 14,000 children will continue their education remotely.

Despite the challenges young Ukrainians, their parents and teachers face in the conditions of the full-scale war, Ukraine remains resilient and will work to provide its students with education in the safest conditions possible. It is crucial, though, to ensure the de-occupation of the captured parts of Ukraine as soon as possible, as the Russian propaganda persistently works to win over the young minds of children living under occupation, and the stakes are rising with each day.


  • Iryna Bohoslav, deputy director of educational complex No. 16 in Melitopol
  • Prytchyna Antonina Ivanivna, biology teacher at Gymnasium #1, Enerhodar
  • Natalia Chemerys, Director of the Kramatorsk school #15, Donetsk region

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