In the face of Russian strikes, Kharkiv turns its metro stations into schools

As schools reopen this Monday in Ukraine, the authorities in Kharkiv have decided to generalize the system of underground schools in the face of the resurgence of Russian shelling.

A classroom set up at a metro station in Kharkiv, September 2023. AFP - SERGEY BOBOK

By: RFI Follow


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With our correspondent in Ukraine, Stéphane Siohan

With its colourful desks and cheerful murals plastered on the wall, the place looks like an ordinary classroom. Except that it is installed several meters underground, in a metro station. Last September, the Kharkiv municipality converted five metro stations into classrooms to accommodate about 1,400 students.

Very close to the Russian border, Ukraine's second-largest city is regularly bombarded by S-300 missiles, which do not trigger systematic warnings and often target schools, which the Russian army believes, rightly or wrongly, to be home to Ukrainian fighters. As a result, more than 100 primary schools and 100 kindergartens in Kharkiv were destroyed.

In this context, the city authorities have decided to expand the system of underground schools, to partition new classes in the metro and to increase the number of children accommodated. The students will alternate days at the back of the metro and days of distance learning on video on Zoom. And even though these places look like regular schools, school psychologists are routinely on site to care for children who appear to be traumatized.

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  • Ukraine