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Library collections destroyed in half of the schools in de-occupied territories — East SOS

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In June, the charitable foundation «Vostok SOS» visited 24 educational institutions in the de-occupied territories of Donetsk, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Sumy, Kherson, and Mykolaiv regions. Many of the schools have suffered from the actions of the Russian occupiers. Some of the buildings are currently in satisfactory condition, while others have been destroyed. Nevertheless, some educational institutions are resuming their work in a possible format, and funds are being raised for their reconstruction and repair.

Mykola Overchenko, manager of educational programmes at the Vostok SOS charitable foundation, told Hromadske Radio about this.

«During the occupation, Russian military equipment was deployed in schools, and the occupiers used these premises as hospitals or shelters. Many of the schools were damaged. Locks were broken, and portraits were shot at. One school in the Kherson region had a blue-and-yellow fence, and the Russians shot at it. They also went to the toilet in the classrooms», — says Overchenko.

According to him, the general condition of the buildings of most schools is assessed as satisfactory by their principals. At the same time, some schools have problems with the heating system, and some have broken windows due to rocket attacks and shelling. Nevertheless, the restoration and training processes are already underway.

«There is a well-known Mykhailo-Kotsiubynskyi lyceum in the Chernihiv region that was hit by a rocket, destroying part of the building, but the educational process is still going on there. It continues with windows boarded up, in modular schools. In the safer regions of Chernihiv, Sumy, and Kharkiv, there are plans for rebuilding, reconstruction projects, and donor money is being raised. Unfortunately, in some regions, the security situation does not allow us to take any action regarding the educational process and the restoration of educational institutions», — says Overchenko.

In addition to damaging the buildings of educational institutions, the occupiers also often destroyed school libraries, says Overchenko:

«In half of the schools we visited, library collections were partially or completely destroyed. Technical devices, equipment, furniture, and doors were stolen. Books were burned, and some were sprayed with foam from fire extinguishers.»

Some teachers continued to work in secret and teach children the Ukrainian curriculum remotely even during the occupation.

«Teachers, at their own risk, closed the windows, opened their laptops, and quietly continued to teach lessons and communicate with children while under occupation. They were afraid, but they felt that the children needed them», — says Overchenko.

According to him, most of the relocated educational institutions continue to work in a remote format. Some educational institutions in Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions have physically moved but have not changed their legal addresses.

All educational institutions visited in the de-occupied territories lack fully repaired and equipped shelters. Some of them are still suitable for people to stay in during times of danger.

«In 30 percent of the visited institutions, there are shelters whose condition is assessed as satisfactory. They lack toilets and proper ventilation. But now there are some improvements where the security situation allows for repairs. Repairing the shelters requires a lot of funding, which is currently being provided by donor organisations, international, and Ukrainian funds», — Overchenko said.

According to him, out of 24 schools visited by Vostok SOS, 18 are currently functioning as points of resilience. They have generators, simple shelters, and video surveillance.

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