“I taught physics and math for 46 years. Now I’m 69 years old and teaching again, because even in times of war, children must keep on studying. We’re responsible for their education.”
The village of Lyptsi has been badly affected by the hostilities and was under the control of Russian armed forces for more than six months. Before February 2022, more than five thousand people lived there, but now there may not even be a thousand, including around 50 children. All the playgrounds have been destroyed, and it is dangerous to stray too far from home – explosions can be heard nearby every day. Four schools operate remotely, but not all families have internet access because of damage to the networks. That has left those children – desperate for an education – without an alternative. So Nina Pavlivna, a retired teacher, has begun giving classes, helping children of different ages study and catch up on missed lessons.
“The parents came to me, and I couldn’t refuse – children must study. We chose the office of the village council since it has an air raid shelter. At first we met once a week, but with more and more children coming each time, we increased it to twice, once for mathematics and once for physics.
The children ask a lot of questions and try very hard to understand. Sometimes we look for answers together. I said from the outset I wouldn’t grade the children, but I’d at least help them not forget the school curriculum. After all, not everyone can study online these days. In our makeshift school, no one takes attendance, but no student has ever missed a class.”
Nina’s only request to the ICRC was for an ordinary blackboard, where she could write formulas and laws of physics and draw graphs and geometric figures. Her school is small but so important for the students who come here not only to study, but also to be together. It creates a sense of security and normality for a few hours a week.
Natalia Andrushchenko, acting headmistress of the Pravdynska Special School, Ivanivka, Sumy Region
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