Schoolkids Write Exams Under Fire in Eastern Ukraine
14 June, 2017

School No.3 in Krasnohorivka, a city in the east of Ukraine, was shelled on the night of May 25, 2017, just before the last day of school. The school's director, Nina Yurchenko, has taught there for several decades and gave Hromadske's journalists a tour of the damaged school.

Photo credit: Mykola Donduk/HROMADSKE

"We celebrated the end of the school year here. There were a lot of guests. It wasn't a typical celebration, we all agreed that we all felt it," she told Hromadske. "The next day the school was shelled."

Photo credit: Mykola Donduk/HROMADSKE

After shelling in 2014, Krasnohorivka's School No.3 was repaired with the help of international organizations, volunteers, and the schoolchildren themselves. Now the school must be repaired again. Although the director hopes classes will resume soon, it is still unclear as to whether or not the children will be able to return to the school in the Fall.

"Before the war all the children would write to each other about what they were going to wear on the last day of school," Sonya, a student from Krasnohorivka School No.3 told Hromadske. "But this year we all said 'did you hear? There was shelling near the school.'" Photo credit: Mykola Donduk/HROMADSKE

According to School Director Nina Yurchenko, the children are scared, although they are used to the fighting. Psychologists work with the students and teachers, but Nina claims their advice works poorly in practice. "They sent us for training about how to behave during shelling," she explained. "But once the shooting or bombing starts it's frightening, when the windows and walls are shaking. When my grandson says 'Grandma, what do we do?' I can't answer because my teeth are chattering."

Photo credit: Mykola Donduk/HROMADSKE

Currently older students are writing exams at School No.5, the only remaining school in the city. Volunteers from international organizations sent requests to the regional administration, asking to postpone or cancel exams. Instead, they want to send the schoolchildren for rehabilitation.

"In the mornings and at night parents don't let their children out," Anna Bezkurska, a teacher at Krasnohorvika School No.3 told Hromadske. "My daughter seems to be afraid, but she tries not to let us [her parents–ed.] see her fear."

Photo credit: Mykola Donduk/HROMADSKE

Local teachers do not believe that exams should be cancelled, but think that rehabilitation would be good for the schoolchildren.

In April, the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers approved a proposed social program called "The National Action Plan to Implement the UN Convention on Children's Rights." They are aiming to implement the program by 2021.

Photo credit: Mykola Donduk/HROMADSKE

The program pays special attention to children's rights during armed conflict and reporting on "the negative impact on the lives of children in settlements in the area of the anti-terrorist operation" and plans "to ensure the protection of children who are in the zone of hostilites or armed conflict, implement comprehensive measures to create conditions for regular life and provide socio-psychological rehabilitation of children affected by hostilities or armed conflict."

/Reporting by Anna Tokhmakhchi

/Translated by Eilish Hart