Un lycée ukrainien en pleine guerre – A War Zone School Testimony

Nos nouveaux partenaires Ukrainiens nous partagent un témoignage poignant sur la situation subie par les élèves, leurs professeurs et les équipes pédagogiques après plus d’un an de guerre en zone occupée.

UnioNet : Dear partners, could you remind us of where you come from in Ukraine?

Our city Melitopol is the second largest city of Zaporizhzhya. The region has been occupied by Russian troops since February 25, 2022. 

UnioNet : What happened during the first days on invasion?

Needless to say, the citizens were shocked and depressed beyond measure. People organised meetings and demonstrations in the centre of the city to show they did not support this invasion. At first, the soldiers only monitored them but then they started to shoot and harm Melitopol people. It was clear for many families they couldn’t stay at home any more.

UnioNet : Was it possible for them to flee? Were they allowed to?

They were leaving the city with enormous difficulty: being checked passing through humiliating procedures, having their suitcases and personal belongings torn apart and inspected in great detail, waiting for each of those checks for hours, sometimes days, being forced to sleep in their cars or on the cold ground in the spring 2022 or suffer from unbearable heat later, in the summer 2022, with barely any access to food or water.

UnioNet : Who were the ones who remained in Melitopol?

At the same time, there were people who were not able to leave for some reasons: their elderly disabled relatives, the lack of money to provide successful transportation, poor health, etc.

As the result, some of the school’s students have been staying at the occupied territories, while most of them have been evacuated to comparatively safe regions of Ukraine and abroad. The same situation is with the teachers. 

UnioNet : So what is the current situation in your school ?

The administration and the staff of the educational establishment realize the importance of uninterrupted learning process for their students. For this reason the school provides online learning since the war started. 

So, every day my colleagues and me meet our students online, hoping to meet at our comfortable and cosy classrooms of our school soon.

Due to the COVID-19 lockdown experience, my school has got necessary skills and tools for online learning. Since 2020 we have successfully developed an online platform where all students, teachers, subjects and schedules are synchronized. The platform gives the opportunity of using up-to-date online tools, organising video conferences, exchanging learning materials, checking assignments and giving the feedback.

UnioNet : What about education under air raids, blackouts and curfews?

Actually, that is not so easy as it could be because of constant air raids and blackouts for those who are staying in Ukraine and the necessity of conspiracy for students and teachers at the occupied territories because it is strictly prohibited there to have any communication and cooperation with Ukrainian organisations and institutions.

Those students who are currently staying in the occupied territories and are not able to leave for different reasons still strive to continue their education in our school.
Although the lessons have to be held online and in strict secrecy, the alternative is much more dreadful: local schools which were overtaken by the occupants in the city were turned into propaganda institutions, forcing kids to learn falsified and fake historical facts, praise the new self-proclaimed government and sing the hymn of Russia – a foreign, aggressive country. Ukrainian books from the school libraries are being destroyed and burned in piles, Ukrainian language is strictly prohibited, and children are forced to forget and never mention their favourite Ukrainian authors, novels, poems and songs.

UnioNet : So what is your main message?

That is why it is so important for our school to support those who have become hostages of the cruel Russian regime and help them remember that there is good in the world. That there is hope for a better future, as long as the light of freedom shines inside of them amidst all the darkness and terror they are facing today.

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