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Amnesty International documents crimes against Ukrainian children in education

Tuesday, 12 December 2023, 05:49
Amnesty International documents crimes against Ukrainian children in education

Human rights group Amnesty International has received evidence from 23 education workers and 16 families with school-age children who lived or are still living under Russian occupation of the significant and widespread disruption of education in Ukraine.

Source: research by Amnesty International 

Details: Human rights activists emphasised that the future of children is under attack, as Russian aggression in Ukraine continues to restrict education in schools.


The organisation says that since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, those living under the Russian occupation have risked suffering cruel retribution for wanting to continue their Ukrainian education. Moreover, some parents have decided to hide their children to avoid sending them to "re-education" institutions for adoption in Russia, or to forcibly enrol them in schools that follow the Russian curriculum.

The research found that, despite the risk of repression, some teachers and parents have tried to organise studies that follow the Ukrainian curriculum during the months of occupation.

Quote: "In the words of a regional education official, teachers, students and parents turned into ‘partisans digging holes in their gardens to hide laptops and mobile phones or hiding in the attics and old sheds to catch the mobile signal.’"

More details: A school librarian, Uliyana (all names changed – AI) told Amnesty International that she had to secretly arrange meetings with students to hand over books to them, despite Russian military patrols on the streets of their village, often conducting arbitrary searches.

Polina, a mother of two, said that during the nine months of Russian occupation, her children only left the house a few times for fear of them being taken to Russia.

Kseniya, the mother of a 15-year-old boy, Kyrylo, from an occupied village in Kherson Oblast, told Amnesty International about a teacher's visit to her home in the spring of 2022. The teacher asked Kyrylo if he would go to school when it opened in September. Kseniya said that Kyrylo would not go to school. At the beginning of September, people in Russian military uniforms came and said: "In case you do not show up at the school tomorrow, the bus will come the following week and take you to an orphanage in Russia." Kyrylo returned to the school, but saw that it was decorated with Russian state symbols, and armed personnel were standing at the door and inside the building.

A teacher from occupied Berdiansk, Zaporizhzhiia Oblast, who left the occupied territories in July 2022 but continues to conduct online classes with children living in the occupied community, told Amnesty International how children are now being forced to learn Russian and sing the national anthem. Those who refuse are threatened with being taken away from their parents for "re-education in Russian orphanages."

The testimony of families from the Russian-occupied territories indicates that schools opened without qualified teaching staff. Children are left alone in classrooms and ordered to read textbooks. This means a deterioration in the quality of education and discipline.

Quote from Anna Wright, researcher for Amnesty International: "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."

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