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A Tangible Attack on the Intangible: Russian missiles take aim at the Education of Ukraine

By Giorgia Colombo


Attacks by the Russian Federation against Ukraine are targeting education, ensuring the effect of the Russian invasion will continue to be felt long after the armed conflict has ceased.

Damage by Russian missiles at the premises of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, courtesy of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine


October 10th, 2022, marked the 229th day of Russian military aggression against Ukraine and a brutal escalation in the conflict between these nations. Throughout the day, Russia launched 84 cruise missiles and 24 unmanned aerial vehicles, with the Ukrainian forces destroying 56 of these targets [1]. Despite Ukraine’s valiant defence, 19 people were killed, and 105 people injured [2]. These attacks were condemned around the world [3].

Among the critical and civil infrastructure facilities that were struck across 12 regions in the Ukraine [2], Kyiv saw 6 educational institutions destroyed [4], including Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, National Academy of Sciences, the Pedagogical Museum (Teacher's House), the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine [5].


What is the effect on education?

While it is seldom reported, one of the most damaging effects of armed conflict is its effect on education [6]. The Russian missiles not only injure civilians and destroy infrastructure at present, but also jeopardise the country’s future by impacting Ukrainian children’s access to education. The violent conflict of the Ukraine War will continue to affect children once they are able to return to the classroom, as the trauma will impact their ability to learn and their capacity to cope with the world around them [6].

As of 12 October, 2’680 educational institutions in Ukraine have been damaged from bombing and shelling, 313 of which were completely destroyed [5]; traditional education has become almost impossible [7]. In occupied regions of Ukraine, Russia utilises education as a weapon. In obligating Ukrainian children to study under the Russian curriculum, they violate the children’s rights to their own cultural and national identity [5] as well as the provisions of the Safe School Declaration [8]. Even without physical danger, students report that the psychological danger of war is draining and affects their ability to concentrate on their studies [9]. Unfortunately, physical danger currently remains a threat to students in Ukraine, with more than 1’227 children affected by the conflict: 422 children have been killed and 805 children injured [10].

The Covid-19 pandemic caused remote learning to become the subject of much discussion, given that due to lockdown restrictions, many children could no longer attend school and distance education was temporarily introduced [7]. The emergence of a variety of pedagogical research during this period allowed the Ministry of Science and Education of Ukraine to review the evidence and create the Ukrainian School Online [11] to allow students who have had to temporarily move due to the war, those living in occupied territories, and those living outside the Ukraine to further their education. However, with as many as 301 Ukrainian settlements remaining without power due to the missile strikes [2], even online learning is under attack.


What does this mean for the future?

The targeted destruction of the present and future of Ukrainian education and science will continue throughout the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine. As stated in a letter [5] from Andrii Vitrenko, the First Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine:

“Education and science are and will remain the most powerful weapon of the Ukrainian nation.”

Paeradigms has a team of experts in Ukraine developing curricula to improve technical skills in energy efficiency. We are impressed with the dedication of our team and education officials in Ukraine while faced with the ongoing attacks by the Russian Federation. Despite being the target of Russian missiles, the Ministry of Education and Science perseveres in providing education to the nation, thus proving their resilience and commitment to Ukraine's present and future.


 



Letter from Andrii Vitrenko, the First Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine, courtesy of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine.


 






Pictures of the destruction caused by the Russian missiles on 10 Oct 2022, courtesy of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine.

 

References

  1. Enemy fired 84 cruise missiles at Ukraine, 43 of them shot down - General Staff. Accessed October 20, 2022. https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-ato/3590171-enemy-fired-84-cruise-missiles-at-ukraine-43-of-them-shot-down-general-staff.html

  2. Yesterday’s missile attacks kill 19 people across Ukraine – State Emergency Service. Accessed October 20, 2022. https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-ato/3590612-yesterdays-missile-attacks-kill-19-people-across-ukraine-state-emergency-service.html

  3. Ukraine updates: US slams ‘utter brutality’ of Russian attacks | Russia-Ukraine war News | Al Jazeera. Accessed October 20, 2022. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/liveblog/2022/10/10/several-explosions-heard-in-ukraine-capital-kyiv

  4. 45 residential buildings damaged by Russia’s missile strikes in Kyiv. Accessed October 20, 2022. https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-ato/3590425-russias-missile-strikes-damage-45-residential-buildings-in-kyiv.html

  5. Vitrenko A. Letter from the First Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine. Published online 2022.

  6. UNESCO. EFA Global Monitoring Report 2011 Summary. The hidden crisis: Armed conflict and education. EFA Glob Monit Rep. Published online 2011:0-37.

  7. Mykhailo S, Evgen P. THE FUTURE OF DISTANCE EDUCATION IN WAR OR THE EDUCATION OF THE FUTURE ( THE UKRAINIAN CASE STUDY ). :1-9.

  8. Safe Schools Declaration – An inter-governmental political commitment to protect students, teachers, schools, and universities from the worst effects of armed conflict. Accessed October 20, 2022. https://ssd.protectingeducation.org/

  9. Madsen AM, Pope R, Samuels A, Margolis CZ. Foreign students’ experience during a time of war. Isr Med Assoc J. 2013;15(3):143-147.

  10. Number of Ukrainian children injured due to Russian aggression rises to 805. Accessed October 20, 2022. https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-ato/3590617-number-of-ukrainian-children-injured-due-to-russian-aggression-rises-to-805.html

  11. ВШО. Accessed October 20, 2022. https://lms.e-school.net.ua/



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