As the world cеlebrates International Day of Education, we want to share how education looks amidst war. Teach For Ukraine wants to remind you about every homework made with candles or light from the city board, about every ruined classroom and every destroyed school, about every child who lost their childhood, and about Ukrainian teachers, who are no longer teachers, but parents, guardians, lifesavers, evacuators, doctors and more of all fighters.
Since the beginning of Russia’s large-scale war, at least 3045 educational institutions have suffered bombing and shelling, – and 424 have been obliterated. Education was put on hold for the first three months of the war and is still to be revived in most of the country. Children were trying their best to keep up with studies online, but with blackouts, even that got almost impossible. Today, we want to tell the second of 5 stories of brave Ukrainian teachers, Teach For Ukraine fellows. Because who, if not teachers, are helping provide stability for children amidst war?
Olha Haidai, 23 y.o., English teacher, Teach For Ukraine fellow in the Kyiv region.
On February 24, 2022, around 5 a.m., after hearing three loud explosions, I screamed and jumped up on the bed. Frightened, I went out into the hallway, where equally frightened neighbors-colleagues asked me: “Did you hear that?” Of course, I heard. Almost immediately, a fighter jet roared overhead, and everyone clung to the floor in fear. Distant explosions again. Then I seemed to fall into some kind of time loop. News. News. Horror. Anxiety. News. Tears. News…
How did the school change?
Our school has been operating remotely since February 24, 2022, because there is no proper bomb shelter in our community. The safest room in our school is the women’s locker room because it has no windows, but it can accommodate 20 people. And about a thousand children study in our school, including more than 80 staff members. Immediately after February 24, our school became a center of volunteer activity. I came there to sort humanitarian work and help in the kitchen. Teachers constantly volunteered: they disassembled humanitarian aid, wove camouflage nets, and prepared food for displaced people.
Recently, the sports hall in our school has been converted into a “point of invincibility,” one of the thousands of makeshift centers set up to provide essential services in the event of prolonged blackouts caused by Russian attacks. I now go there to help as many of my students come to spend some time together.
It is sad to see the empty corridors of a dark school without noisy children. I remember how I walked into one classroom on August 31 and gasped – the date written on the school board was February 23 (see photo).
My teacher colleague said we should not wipe it because it was already history.
How students changed
I have a student whose name is Viktor. He didn’t study well before the war. Both of his parents serve in the Armed Forces and defend Ukraine. Since the beginning of the war, he has taken up his mind and begun to study harder. Viktor felt responsible for his studies and began to show incredible results. I noticed how much the boy had changed; I supported him by writing about him on social networks. Victor generally blossomed, promised not to let me down, and thanked me for my sincere faith in him. And he kept his word. Last year, he grew from a mark of 4 to 7, and I gave him a well-deserved 9 points this semester. This is a huge victory for him.
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