Russian authorities in the occupied territories of Ukraine are preparing for the fall school year amid the rubble and unexploded ordinance of the war-torn landscape, including summer sessions in Russian history, language, and literature, Ukrainian officials claim.
Mariupol Deputy Mayor Petro Andrushenko reported on his Telegram account that the Russian-installed city government is rushing to prepare children for the fall semester, which will be taught entirely in Russian and will feature the standard Moscow-approved curriculum.
"Russia is trying to erase anything Ukrainian from the minds of children and destroy the Ukrainian identity as such," according to Lyudmyla Denisova, ombudsman for human rights in Ukraine.
Reopening schools in Mariupol after three months of shellings, shooting, and bombings will come with a slew of unique challenges.
"Russians are planning to open nine schools. So far, they have 53 teachers, which will give each school only six teachers," Andrushenko wrote.
More than half of the city's population evacuated and an estimated 20,000 were killed. Nevertheless, about 150,000 people remain, among them thousands of school-age children who will be required to attend.
To meet the challenge, 3,500 Ukrainian school teachers in Mariupol are being required to learn the "correct" Russian curriculum.
Another problem is the explosives.
On Saturday, a 12-year-old boy stepped on an undetonated Russian shell, killing him.
"Please tell your children to avoid suspicious or unfamiliar looking objects," Andrushenko cautioned after the explosion.
Preschools are on the minds of the occupational government as well, which opened a "children's center" in a partially destroyed kindergarten.
The curriculum, called "The Donbas Alphabet," was created by educators from the self-declared "Donetsk People's Republic" and was designed specifically for kids who come from the Eastern Donbas region of Ukraine.
The building has no electricity, water, or gas. Lunch is prepared on a fire outside of the preschool.
Denisova thinks Russia might have ulterior motives for re-opening the kindergarten.
"They are doing this to create a TV-ready image of rebuilding and prosperity in Mariupol, "Denisova said.
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