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Friday, June 14, 2024

Kharkiv to build Ukraine’s first underground school to protect children

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, is set to construct the nation’s inaugural fully subterranean school to protect its students from frequent bomb and missile assaults by Russia, as revealed by the city’s mayor.

Mayor Ihor Terekhov conveyed on the Telegram messaging app, “This shelter will provide a safe environment for thousands of Kharkiv children to continue their in-person education even in the face of missile threats.”

Amid the ongoing conflict, many schools in frontline areas have resorted to online teaching. However, before the school year starts on September 1st, Kharkiv has devised an innovative solution by establishing approximately 60 separate classrooms within its metro stations. This initiative has created space for over 1,000 students to attend classes underground.

Kharkiv, with a pre-war population of over 1.4 million, is within 35 kilometers (20 miles) of the Russian border. It has frequently endured Russian rocket and missile attacks, often striking before residents can reach safety shelters.

Amid last year’s intense bombing, around 160,000 people took refuge on the spacious platforms and in the expansive corridors of Kharkiv’s underground metro system. Among them, as reported by Kharkiv’s head of education, Olha Demenko, were 7,000 children. She mentioned, “We engaged in activities like games and singing with them during that period, and as the new school year approached, we pondered if we could organize this more effectively.”

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Mayor Terekhov emphasized that the new school would adhere to the latest regulatory standards for protective structures, ensuring that thousands of Kharkiv children can continue their in-person education safely, even in the face of missile threats. Details regarding the size and opening date of the school were not immediately available.

Terekhov further assured that funding for schools in the city would not be reduced “by a single hryvnia” for the current year or the next, underscoring that “Kharkiv boasts the most intellectually vibrant community in Ukraine” due to its educational prowess.

In the 24 hours leading up to Monday, a civilian man lost his life, and several houses sustained damage as a result of Russian shelling and rocket attacks, according to Oleh Sinehubov, the governor of the Kharkiv region, of which the city of Kharkiv serves as the administrative center.

The ongoing war, with no resolution in sight, has claimed numerous lives and displaced millions of civilians. Ukraine’s Ministry of Education reports that 363 educational institutions have been destroyed, and nearly 3,800 have been damaged nationwide.

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