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Ukraine to build first underground school amid ongoing war


Ukraine to build first underground school amid ongoing war

Ukraine is set to construct its first fully underground school in the northeastern city of Kharkiv in response to persistent attacks and destruction of educational facilities caused by the ongoing war.

Mayor Ihor Terekhov announced the ambitious project, emphasizing its importance in ensuring children’s safety and the continuity of their education despite missile threats.

“Such a shelter will allow thousands of children to continue their in-person education safely even during missile threats,” Mayor Terekhov stated on Telegram.

The devastating impact of Russia’s invasion in February last year has taken a severe toll on Ukraine’s educational infrastructure.

According to the latest reports, more than 360 educational facilities have been destroyed, with over 3,000 others suffering damage.

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Due to ongoing attacks and security concerns, only about a third of school-age children in Ukraine currently attend classes in person.

This situation has raised concerns about students forgetting what they’ve already learned.

Unicef reported that the official figures of school destruction from the conflict were four times higher than initially estimated, with more than 1,300 schools completely destroyed during the 19-month-long war.

“Inside Ukraine, attacks on schools have continued unabated, leaving children deeply distressed and without safe spaces to learn,” said Regina De Dominicis, Unicef regional director for Europe and Central Asia.

Beyond Ukraine’s borders, the situation remains challenging for Ukrainian children who have fled the conflict to seven different countries.

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Unicef highlighted that over half of these children are not enrolled in national education systems, often due to language barriers and overburdened educational systems.

Mayor Terekhov’s announcement about the construction of the first underground school in Ukraine aims to address some of these challenges.

However, specific details about the school’s opening date and the number of students it will accommodate have not been provided.

Despite budget constraints, Mayor Terekhov reassured that funding for education would not be reduced in the coming years.

He added, “Kharkiv is the most intelligent city in Ukraine,” underscoring the city’s commitment to providing a safe and conducive learning environment for its children.

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While many schools in frontline regions have resorted to online teaching throughout the conflict, Kharkiv has already taken steps to create alternative learning spaces.

Approximately 60 separate classrooms have been established in the city’s metro stations, offering more than 1,000 children the opportunity to continue their education in a secure environment.

Ukrainian interior minister Ihor Klymenko remarked, “Lessons in the metro. Could you ever imagine that Ukrainian children will study in the underground? This is our reality now.”

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, has been particularly vulnerable to attacks due to its proximity to the Russian border, with daily rocket and missile attacks causing damage and casualties.