Communities and educators at war

Kids Playing


Special project “Communities and Educators at War” tells stories about Ukrainian education and educators during the Russian-Ukrainian war. In spite of active hostilities, occupation, uncertainty, and fear, our educators are doing their best for their cities, towns, villages and communities in different parts of Ukraine. They teach children in bomb shelters and online, go in for volunteering and stay in the frontline, help with evacuation and arrange bomb shelters.

The special project has been implemented within the DECIDE project – “Decentralization for Improved Democratic Education”, implemented by NGO DOCCU and PH Zurich and supported by Switzerland.

Little Girl Studying
Ганна Немирська у гуртожитку в Чернівецькій області 1
Ганна з сином

Donetsk Region

I accompanied my only son to the war and saved those who never had a real family. The story of social care teacher Hanna Nemyrska

Social care teacher Hanna Nemyrska was the only one who agreed to accompany orphans from a social dormitory from the frontline Druzhkivka in the Donetsk Region to a safer region of Ukraine. In the first weeks of a full-scale invasion, she left her family to rescue lonely children who were unprepared for the possible risks of war.

State dormitory in Druzhivka is home to young people who were brought up in boarding schools and orphanages, and after graduating from high school they have no place to live. The main task of employees of such an institution is to socialize children, teach them to live independently, earn and spend money, communicate with state and social institutions, and maintain healthy relationships with others.

But unfortunately, state orphanages in Ukraine do not prepare for war at all. And in the face of war, "state" children appear completely defenceless. So Hanna decided to help. And now he talks about this double struggle for their destinies.

Army Medical Box

Kherson region


Two and a half thousand kilometres of life. How I taught children during the occupation, and then left the village of Strilkove on the Arabat Spit.

Physics teacher and journalist Alina Kovalenko lived in Uman. However, due to her state of health, she had to quit her job and, on the recommendation of doctors, move to the seaside in the summer of 2021. Friends invited the woman to live and take care of their house in the village of Strilkove on the Arabat Spit in the Kherson Region, where she found a job in her speciality and resumed teaching at a local school after a 15-year break.

Alina adapted to her new life, carefully prepared for lessons and tried to make them as practical as possible for children. However, everything changed on February 24.

In this article, she tells her story — about the peculiarities of teaching schoolchildren under the occupation, the reluctance to cooperate with the occupation authorities, the fear and the difficult decision to leave the village, which turned into a 2500 km road from Strilkove to Kherson — Kryvyi Rih — Uman and finally Germany.

Аліна Коваленко
Kids in the school
Василь Чмелюк біля автівки з бронежилетами, які через волонтерів передав військовим на передову. Фото з особистого архіву героя
Зруйнований Державний податковий університет

Kyiv region

”It felt like the building lifted off the ground." The then acting Vice-Rector of the State Tax University — on the occupation of Irpin, study and return to the city

Irpin is located in the northwest of Kyiv and can be reached by car in 15 minutes. The town, which was actively developed and where young families recently bought apartments, became an outpost of a full-scale russian invasion.

An international event was scheduled to take place at the local State Tax University on February 24. This is the only educational institution in Ukraine that reports to the Ministry of Finance and trains specialists in economic security. That day, at five o'clock in the morning, residents of Irpin, like the whole country, woke up to explosions.

About 700 students, teachers and citizens were in the shelters of the educational institution. Now the university is in ruins, having survived fires and occupation. But the educational institution is being revived: after the liberation of Irpin, a humanitarian hub operated here. On August 01, the University started a new academic year — in a remote format.

Vasyl Chmeliuk, who at that time worked as acting Vice-Rector for international affairs and investment, tells about the life of teachers and all those who found shelter in the University's bunkers during the battles for Irpin.

Rusty Antitank Hedgehog

Luhansk region


Popasna's teachers don't give up. What happens to school education in the city on the contact line

The Popasna community in the Luhansk Region has been periodically shelled from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine for eight years. The contact line passed just four kilometres from the city of Popasna, which had a population of around 14,000 people. But over the past few years, shells have exploded only on the outskirts. Sometimes — in some settlements of the community.

However, everything changed after February 24. Now the city is destroyed, most of the inhabitants have left for safer places, and since May 8, Popasna has been under the control of the Russian invaders.

Olena Lahutina, Head of the Department of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports of the Popasna Military and Civil Administration, told how to teach children in such conditions, what has changed for teachers and what will happen next with education.

Олена Лагутіна
діти у школі
Уроки в школі
Наталія Малець демонструє наскрізний отвір у стіні
Вибиті вікна на подвір'ї школи
Pile Of Pencils

Chernihiv region

Schools during wartimes: Chernihiv prepares for new academic year

When sirens woke up the whole Ukraine on February 24, 2022, not only students came to many schools in Chernihiv. People of all ages came to hide there from Russian shelling in the shelters.

Then shelling and bombing of the city by planes began. And while the Director Natalia Malets was sweeping the glass in the corridors of her school after another strike, her colleague Larysa Lesun was looking for volunteers to evacuate a family with small children from the shelter. Other educators, headed by their leader - the Head of the Chernihiv City Council Education Department Vasyl Bilohura, were also busy with this.

Because of the war, Chernihiv suffered severe destruction in March. Out of 34 schools, Russian shells did not hit only seven. Two schools were destroyed and cannot be restored, 25 were damaged. The repair of the "survivors" is estimated at over UAH 200 million. Despite all the difficulties, Vasyl Bilohura assures: the educational process in the city will begin on time.

How did the teachers live in the besieged Chernihiv, how did they unite with the community and do-gooders to restore the property destroyed by russians, and most importantly - what will the educational process be like in the conditions of war in the city, which is just a few tens of kilometers from the border with belarus? Find out more from our report.


Zaporizhzhia region


Ukrainian teachers organize online studies in the occupied territories

The occupants are now ruling in Novoukrainka, Zaporizhzhia region: they are establishing their own order, putting rubles into circulation. There is only one educational institution in the village – gymnasium of Novoukrainka. Children from four localities study here. The invaders force parents to send their children to study according to the russian curriculum.

However, the Director of this educational institution, Tetiana Yakovleva, who was forced to evacuate to Lviv, together with her colleagues decided to give her students the opportunity to continue receiving Ukrainian education. Teachers have developed a project and are now implementing it. Tetiana told us about this and the difficulties that arise on the way to plan implementation.

Учні з Тетяною Яковлевою
Тетяна Яковлева
Тетяна Яковлева
Мер і діти (фото з архіву Сергія Мергута)
Літо, відпочинок, робототехніка (фото з архіву Сергія Мергута)
У кожного свій фронт, і кожний фронт – важливий (фото з архіву НЗСО № 3)

Odesa region

Education during war: shelters ready in Kiliia's schools?

In two of the five schools in Kiliia, only online studies are available. Three schools have shelters, but they cannot accommodate all the students. We will tell you how this problem is being solved in the Education Department and about the condition of Kiliia school shelters.

Rusty Antitank Hedgehog

Kharkiv region


Educational process in Kharkiv under constant shelling

Kharkiv mayor Ihor Terekhov on how the city's schools will work in the conditions of war

Kharkiv is not just a hero city, but also a martyr city: every day russian shells and missiles fall on its streets. And in these terrible conditions, the city continues not only to fight but also to live a life as ordinary as the war allows. Part of this ordinary life is the work of schools. Kharkiv mayor Ihor Terekhov talks about how it is going on.

Харків під обстрілами
Школа Харків
Школа Салтівка

Lviv region

Learning in war conditions: how the Lviv Region schoolchildren will study during the air alerts

On September 1, 2022, the Lviv Region schools began full-time training. Due to russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the threat of rocket attacks on civilians, shelters have been set up in educational institutions where children and teachers can take shelter during the air alerts.

We found out whether all schools have such shelters, how they are equipped, at whose expense, and what requirements exist for shelters in educational institutions.

Poltava region


Reshetylivka community: only democratic approach in choosing the form of education

At the end of the summer, the question of the readiness of all educational institutions for the new academic year has traditionally arisen. This year – under martial law. How to organize the educational process was also decided in the Reshetylivka community of the Poltava Region.

Today, this region is relatively quiet for life and has already become a haven for many internally displaced persons, including children, who started their school year in a new place.

Алла Костогриз - очільниця Решетилівського відділу освіти.
Фото з архіву закладу
Перевірка комісією готовності укриття.
Голова Новопсковської ТГ Вадим ГАЄВ
спортивний майданчик Новопсковський ліцей

Luhansk region

Not only knowledge but also a Ukrainian-centered worldview: how educational institutions operate in the Novopskov community

The beginning of the school year in Ukraine under martial law has become difficult for every educational institution. But the most difficult task is to ensure an appropriate educational process in communities whose territories are under russian occupation. One of them is the Novopskov territorial community of the Luhansk Region.

adim Haiev, Chairman of the Novopskov territorial community, explains how the village council creates conditions for children to master the Ukrainian curriculum online, what difficulties they face and from whom they receive help.

Army Medical Box

Kyiv region


Offline training in the Kaharlyk community schools

The academic year in Ukrainian schools began on September 1, 2022. This decision was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on June 24. It is impossible to return to full-time education in the front-line and occupied territories, so the online format will continue there.

Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine Serhiy Shkarlet noted that all children should acquire knowledge only in safe conditions, and the right to choose the form of education will be reserved for parents.

We decided to find out how the training will take place in the schools of the Kaharlyk district, and how the teachers and the authorities of the community have prepared. To do this, we talked with the Head of the Kaharlyk City Council Education Department Nadiia Omelchenko, the Head of the City Council Commission Ihor Budiuk, Directors of the Kagarlyk Lyceums No. 1 and No. 3 Vasyl Mamii and Nataliia Kovalenko, and Director of the Burty lyceum Liudmyla Nesteruk.

Начальниця відділу освіти Кагарлицької міськради Надія Омельченко. Фото Валентина Владімірова
Укриття для вихованців дитсадка «Теремок». Фото Валентина Владімірова
В укритті дитсадка «Ромашка» в Кагарлику. Фото Валентина Владімірова
ЗДО _Сонечко_ Каноницької сільради
Пиріжки з м'ясом для військових робляться з любов'ю
няня з книжечкою
Pile Of Pencils

Rivne region

Programmed to win: the big soul of a small kindergarten in Kanonychi

Volunteering is a multi-functional activity because there are no restrictions on the professional qualification in this difficult and unromantic status taken voluntarily. Thousands of Ukrainians became forced volunteers. Forced, because, on February 24, 2022, the russian occupier cynically burst into Ukraine, ignoring all possible rules of war and politics. Teachers also joined in the defence.

Training stopped, and volunteer hubs, workshops, and aid centres began to operate in educational institutions. The Varash District is no exception: the Kanonychi community quickly organized itself with the entire educational sector. And not only schools but even kindergartens. The "Sonechko" kindergarten in Kanonychi, run by Nataliia Sakova, became a volunteer kitchen hub as well.

The educational process has already started in the institution, but they have not left their work on defence either. The staff of the institution told how their volunteering began, what they achieved and what they plan for the future.

Rusty Antitank Hedgehog

Sumy Oblast


Bilopillia teachers work under fire and care about quality education and safety

The school in Bilopillia located seven kilometers from the russian border did not terminate studies for a single day, both when temporarily besieged and under constant shelling.

It has the largest number of graduates with honors and students who scored 200 points in testing among the schools of Bilopillia area. Teachers equip bomb shelters and volunteer together with their pupils.

Вітраж з виглядом школи, подарований закладу до сторіччя
Флешмоб - _Разом - до перемоги!_ (1)
Учні допомагають плести маскувальні сітки (1)

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