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In a devastated Ukrainian village, a teacher’s living room becomes a makeshift school

Oleksandre Pogorielov sometimes walks to school in his village in eastern Ukraine, where he has taught for more than two decades. But instead of lessons and conversations, now there are only silent ruins. The school building was destroyed in April as the village and surrounding area became a frontline for fighting between Russian forces and Ukrainians. Today, the 45-year-old man is back there. only to recover material that had survived the bombings and teach the few children who remained in a makeshift classroom improvised in his living room. Can a teacher still feel when he sees everything destroyed?” Oleksandre says, standing in front of the school, which is in ruins like dozens of other buildings in the village where he grew up. According to UNICEF, hundreds of schools in Ukraine have been damaged or destroyed since the beginning of the Russian occupation, and this , has led to millions of children being drawn into online education. Russia accuses Ukraine’s military of using schools and other civilian infrastructure to shelter its troops and store ammunition. A practice Moscow has also been blamed for. The village of Chandrigolove, where he has a child, no longer has electricity or access to the Internet. Despite the difficulties, Oleksandre thinks, “it’s better to teach face-to-face.” “A doctor has to treat his patients, a teacher has to teach children,” he adds. in order to have” he decided to study at home. – Yal only Ukraine – From now every day several students meet in the living room of Alexander and his wife Larisa, cats lie by the wood stove, ducks gossip in the yard. The walls of the living room are lined with posters salvaged from the school building. , showing the alphabet and syntax. In one corner is a microscope that students use to study cells for biology class. Books, some taken from a basement near the school, are stacked on the shelves. Oleksandr teaches Ukrainian language and literature, foreign literature, biology, geography and math to 11 students, ages 4 to 16. I have to study,” he laughs. But not anymore. When asked why, he replies: “I don’t know, now I only teach Ukrainian language and literature.” He said the village, like many other communities, is still reeling despite parents supporting the removal of the Russian language. In the Donetsk region, between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian sympathies. – An uncertain future – Many of the roughly 120 students who once attended the village school are now in Europe, other parts of Ukraine refugees in their regions or in Russia. “I can’t speak. for others. Everyone has their own opinion,” Oleksandre says about the war. “I can’t speak for myself right now. I’m not sure of my own thoughts,” he says. Five children in one class were mixing Ukrainian and Russian on Tuesday, but quickly admitted that their favorite subject was Ukrainian. Chandrygolov√© was captured by Ukrainian troops in September 2022, but signs of war still remain. 15-year-old Oleksandre walks three kilometers to get to class. For fear of stepping on landmines on asphalted roads. His friend Dmitri soberly adds that two people who set off a trap set by soldiers during a walk in the forest in a nearby village died. Oleksandr Pogorielov hopes for normality in all of this. He will return to the village, which receives funding to rebuild the school. For now, he is the only one teaching to help his students achieve their dreams. Teenager Oleksandre says he wants to be a policeman, and his classmate Daria wants to be a policeman. 13, hopes to work in a bank. But their teacher is worried about their future: “If I wasn’t worried, I wouldn’t do it,” he sighs.sw/pop/bur/juf

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