As students prep to return to school in September, Ukraine schools are scrambling to construct bunkers and bomb shelters.
A new story coming all the way from Ukraine is serving as a gentle reminder to worried parents that it could always be worse. Students in America are returning to schools with worries about increased school violence. But across the Atlantic, students in war-ravaged Ukraine return to schools with bunkers and bomb shelters.
CNN reports that Ukraine schools are scrambling to construct bomb shelters and bunkers within campuses before students head back to class this September. Normally, the first day of school, coined Knowledge Day, is joyfully celebrated. However, the continuous Russian invasion of the European nation has eclipsed the return to school. Fighting has damaged some 2,300 schools throughout the nation. More than half of all schools will be unable to resume classes in September, as officials rush to make buildings safer.
The country has been praised for its stoic stance to live on amid battles and decimated cities as they fight back against Russian troops in their attempt to invade the country. In some of the country’s worst-hit cities, Ukraine schools made sure students kept up with their studies, as photographs circulated last year of chilling graduation photos. Today, educators in the country now grapple with the fact that they may not be able to keep students safe in schools.
Many schools have been damaged in the fight. In one city close to the capital of Kyiv, a large Ukrain school that taught more than 2,400 children was heavily blasted. Over summer break, the school received needed repairs thanks to the help of UNICEF. In an attempt to ease the worries of families as much as possible, the school rebuilt its bomb shelter as well.
Thanks to the nation’s viewpoint on technology innovation, Ukraine schools were swift to shift to online learning when the invasion began. But after a toll, countless children across the war-torn nation have no access to the internet, nor access to devices to learn online. On top of that, eager students are ready to go back to learning in person, despite the risks. “I really want to go to school… I dream of hugging my friends and just chatting,” said Anna Krasiuk, a nine grader.
Some Ukraine schools didn’t have bomb shelters before the official Russian invasion last February. Tension and attacks were a normal occurrence in parts of the nation facing conflict for years, and schools without bunkers had to make do with drills that taught children to hide under their desks. Whether or not these schools will be given needed shelters remains unknown.
Throughout the last year, multiple Russian air strikes have targeted Ukraine schools. Serhii Horachov, the national education ombudsman spoke with CNN about the return to school. “Our schools are not designed to be used as defensive facilities,” he lamented. But nonetheless, most Ukrainians are resilient, with a desire to keep life going and make sure that a young generation of students receives their fair opportunity at an education.
Horachov asserted that this academic year would be arduous, as Ukraine schools attempt to welcome children back to buildings as much as possible. Now in the six months of conflict, there still appears to be no end in sight. But what has been made extremely clear, is that despite the risk, students want to learn and return to schools, with bomb shelters and bunkers or without.