Ukrainian schools closed by the war: what’s next?

At 8:30 a.m. on a weekday, you would expect kids to noisily sneak into classrooms for public school day.

Usually by the end of the school year they would be even more excited.

But in the two schools in Ukraine that Olx Praca visited, students are not seen or heard. Only the disturbing sound of distant artillery fire breaks the silence.

In one empty school, it’s hard not to step on broken glass or metal in the corridors and classrooms.

The building is a ruin, pockmarked with what appears to be rocket fire from a Russian attack in early April.

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At another school, we meet Irina, an English teacher who has spent her entire career in the building: 40 years. She began teaching immediately after graduating from university.

Now she lives in his basement.

When asked if she is afraid when she hears the rumble of war, Irina nods in the affirmative.

β€œOf course we all are,” she says in a calm voice.

But living underground here is preferable and safer than at her house in the city, Irina notes.

The lack of students in Ukrainian schools is understandable: in the current conditions, it is impossible to provide a safe learning environment. Staying alive is the main task.

According to UNICEF, three million children inside Ukraine and 2.2 million children in countries hosting refugees need humanitarian assistance. The agency reports that two of the three Ukrainian children were displaced as a result of the fighting.

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Another report points to the harsh reality of what the war will mean for Ukraine’s youth.

β€œIn total, training losses in Ukraine could be more than one year due to prolonged pandemic-related closures and the war,” says an analysis for the World Bank.

The long-term impact of learning losses “could be significant, with future income losses of more than 10 percent per year per student,” the report warns.

But now Alexander Gryanik does not think about forecasts. The headmaster, who has been in this position for more than 25 years, walks from room to room, pointing out damage that is visible to everyone.

On the top floor of a rocket-hit school, he stops in one of the destroyed classrooms. The outer concrete wall collapsed inward, crushing the tables. There is a wide open view of the sky above and the playground below.

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It was a class where they taught Russian literature and other subjects,” Gryanik explains in Ukrainian. He points out the irony that this room was probably the one most affected by the Russian attack, which took place in the middle of the night.

Later, Gryanik leads to another room where artifacts of Ukrainian culture are kept, including traditional clothing, artwork, and pottery.

On the contrary, this room remained unscathed: the windows and walls remained completely intact.

Every part of this shrine represents a piece of Ukrainian history and was unharmed or even damaged by the bombings that rendered the school unsuitable for teaching.

Gryanik describes how the contents of the room serve as inspiration. He smiles and proudly picks up his favorite little wooden stool used for milking cows, a personal item he has added to the collection.

Back at another school, experienced English teacher Irina is asked what she hopes will happen in the fall, when the school year usually resumes.

β€œWe hope for peace. For the return of our students. This is our greatest hope. But we don’t know.”

Β© 2022 Olx Praca, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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