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New report on Ukrainian schools in liberated territories: libraries destroyed, rooms looted, and lack of shelters

Wednesday, 19 June 2024, 13:06
New report on Ukrainian schools in liberated territories: libraries destroyed, rooms looted, and lack of shelters
Research into the condition of schools in Ukraine’s liberated territories. Stock photo: Mykhaylo Palinchak/Sopa Images/Lightrocket/Getty Images

The Kharkiv Institute of Social Research and the charity East SOS visited 24 schools in Ukraine’s liberated territories to assess their condition. They found that the library stocks in 10 schools had been damaged or destroyed; 13 schools had been looted by the Russians; and none of the schools had a bomb shelter in good repair.

Source: a report by the NGO Kharkiv Institute of Social Research and the charity East SOS

The researchers visited 24 schools –  four in each of Donetsk, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Sumy, Kherson and Mykolaiv oblasts. 16 of them had been under occupation.


Russian military personnel had been stationed in six of the schools and had looted property and damaged premises. Russian military equipment had been stationed in four of the schools. One school had been used as a hospital by the Russians.

Quote: "The Russians entered the school and stayed for three days," a representative of the management team of one of the schools in Sumy Oblast said. "They couldn't break the main entrance doors down, but they broke in through the emergency exit on the first floor. They moved into the classrooms and smashed the corners of the walls. I couldn't believe that people were incapable of opening windows, but they just broke them. They were also in the canteen, left their 'calling cards' in all the offices, and stole three laptops."

The occupying authorities forced teachers to cooperate with them, and parents were forced to send their children to be taught according to the Russian curriculum.


"From an interview with the management of one of the educational institutions in Kharkiv Oblast, it was clear that under occupation, the school did not operate but received accreditation to conduct educational activities in the Russian Federation, starting the education process in September 2022. Some teachers and headteachers from other educational institutions transferred to this school; after liberation, they were held to account," the report says.

How the schools’ facilities were used (in absolute values)

infographic: EAST-SOS

Buildings in 23 of the 24 schools had been damaged in combat action. The schools’ management rated the severity of the damage at 6 out of 10.

At 10 of the 24 schools, library stocks had been partially or completely destroyed. At 13 schools, the Russians had stolen technical devices and equipment and damaged classrooms, furniture, windows, doors, and more.

During the occupation, two-thirds of the schools had delivered lessons online according to the Ukrainian education programme. Now they all work remotely or provide blended learning.

Extracurricular classes are offered in 15 out of 24 schools. The students attend most of them in person (sports, choreography, drama clubs, etc.).

As of the beginning of the academic year 2023-2024, each school had 390 students on average. In 15 of the schools, the number of students has decreased by approximately 7% compared with the end of the previous school year.

The majority of students did not evacuate (66%). Almost a third had to evacuate (14% moved within Ukraine and 19% went abroad). Less than 1% remain in temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.

The schools in Donetsk and Mykolaiv oblasts have the highest numbers of internally displaced students – between 30% and 51%.

Half of the institutions are fully staffed, while the others have one or two vacancies.

Most of the schools have heating, cold water and electricity, but 14 of them have problems with hot water, eight have no heating, and six have problems with electricity or have no cold water supply.


None of the schools have a shelter in good repair, equipped with everything needed to be comfortable during air raids. There is no shelter at all in nine of the schools. 15 have shelters but they need a major overhaul.

Only six of the schools visited are in a satisfactory condition.

The researchers rated the psycho-emotional state of the teachers and students at 6.5 out of 10. They also listed the following problems:

  • lack of psychologists in the communities;
  • irregular visits by mobile mental health support teams from humanitarian organisations;
  • the need for long-term systematic psychological support, especially for teachers from liberated communities;
  • requests to work with an external specialist rather than a school counsellor.

The research has shown how the war is impacting the mental health of teachers from frontline territories.

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