Ukrainian children in Russian-occupied territories face barriers to education, risking deportation or placement in orphanages
Russian authorities impede access to Ukrainian education and use threats against those who resist conforming to the Russian Federation's curriculum in the temporarily occupied areas
This is stated in a study by Amnesty International.
“Amnesty International has obtained evidence from 23 education workers and 16 families with school age children who were, or still are, living under Russian occupation, and documented how Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has led to significant and widespread interruption of education in Ukraine. In the Russian-occupied territories, intimidation and coercion are a daily reality for families, children and teaching staff. No one is safe under Russia’s endless campaign of terror in Ukraine” Anna Wright, researcher for Amnesty International, said of the findings.
The study reveals that, despite the risk of repression, some teachers and parents at the temporarily occupied territories attempted to organize studies following the Ukrainian curriculum. According to a representative from the regional education department, people covertly tried to establish mobile communication in attics and sheds to continue studies. Laptops and phones were buried to avoid detection.
In the face of Russian military patrols, one librarian bravely distributed books to students, navigating the frequent searches on village streets.
For safety reasons, some parents paused their children's education, restricting their movement due to fears of being taken to Russia. In an occupied Kherson region village, a teacher inquired about a child's school attendance after its reopening. The mother declined, but later, men in Russian military uniforms threatened to send the child to an orphanage in the Russian Federation. The child had to attend a school adorned with Russian symbols, guarded by armed men.
A teacher from the occupied Berdyansk community in the Zaporizhzhia region, who left in July 2022 but still conducts online lessons for children in the occupied area, informed Amnesty International that children are compelled to learn and sing the Russian national anthem. Refusal is met with threats of "re-education in Russian orphanages."
At the same school, a notice, which was seen by Amnesty International researchers, was distributed to all students which said: “Look around you. You can see that Ukraine has destroyed Kharkov, Mariupol and other cities. If you do not want Ukraine to kill you, tell us everything you see and know about it.”
“The only way to help Ukraine heal and to make Ukrainian children’s present and future less painful, is for Russia to end the war in Ukraine, which is an act of aggression under international law,” said Anna Wright. “In the meantime, the occupying authorities must immediately stop intimidating local people, coercing teaching staff into undertaking inappropriate educational activities, and other abusive practices. During war or occupation, all parties remain bound by international humanitarian and human rights law. Ensuring children’s right to access to quality education is one such duty, and it must be fully respected.”
- Russian invaders set up a military hospital in one of the schools of the temporarily occupied Rubizhne, Luhansk region. Children are deprived of the opportunity to study even remotely.