Ukraine war: First underground school to be built in Kharkiv

Posted: 2nd October 2023

Ukraine’s first underground school will be built in the north-eastern city of Kharkiv, Mayor Ihor Terekhov has said.

“Such a shelter will allow thousands of children to continue their in-person education safely even during missile threats,” he said.

Rocket attacks hit the Kharkiv region again on Monday – a regular occurrence.

Ukraine says more than 360 educational facilities have been destroyed and over 3,000 damaged since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022.

According to the UN children agency Unicef, only a third of Ukraine’s schoolchildren currently study in-person, amid continuing deadly Russian missile and drone attacks as well as shelling.

Many of those pupils have been forced to attend classes in underground metro stations and other makeshift shelters – often without proper heating.

Last week, the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency said many schools in the 27-member bloc were struggling to integrate children who have fled the war in Ukraine.

It said there were currently about 1.3 million Ukrainian children in the EU.

In Sunday’s post on social media, the Kharkiv mayor announced that “it is here that we plan to build the first underground school in Ukraine”.

Mr Terekhov said the school “will meet the most modern requirements for defensive buildings”.

And he stressed that the city authorities “will not reduce educational expenditure by a single hryvnia [Ukraine’s currency] this year or next year, despite the lack of budget funds”.

The mayor gave no details on when the underground school would open, and how many pupils would be able to study there.

Last month, more than 1,000 Kharkiv pupils started their new school year at five underground stations that were turned into the so-called “metro-schools”.

The students are ferried by buses, and study in two shifts: the early one starts at 09:00 local time, followed by the late one at 13:00. Police and rescuers are on duty at each underground station.

“Lessons in the metro. Could you ever imagine that Ukrainian children will study in the underground? This is our reality now,” Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said at the time.

Kharkiv – Ukraine’s second-largest city located only 30km (19 miles) from the Russian border – was heavily bombed during the first weeks of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion launched in February 2022.

Local residents even witnessed fierce street fighting in the city – when Russian troops attempted to capture Kharkiv.

They were eventually pushed back during a lightning Ukrainian counter-offensive last autumn.

Source: Ukraine war: First underground school to be built in Kharkiv – BBC News

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