This is what the ‘Russification’ of Ukraine’s education system looks like in occupied areas – CNN

by | May 16, 2022 | Education

The troops held her husband and daughter at gunpoint, but the 48-year-old told CNN she knew it was her they’d come for. As a school principal, she believes they saw her as the enemy.”They were searching everywhere, even the drains and outdoor toilet,” she explained. “They found schoolbooks and tutorials for Ukrainian language.”Nina is not alone. Ukrainian officials say educators in newly Russian-occupied areas of the country have reported increasing cases of intimidation, threats and pressure to adapt school programs to align with pro-Russian rhetoric.As the war rips through Ukraine, education has become a victim of the conflict — and a potential battlefield in the fight for control of the country. Before Russian troops invaded on February 24, around 4.23 million students were enrolled in schools across the country, according to data compiled by Ukraine’s Institute of Educational Analytics, a state agency. Now, millions of school-age children have been internally displaced or forced to flee abroad with their families. After searching her home, Nina said the soldiers — who forced her to speak Russian — “gave me a minute to dress and took me to the school.” Once they arrived, she was ordered to hand over history textbooks and quizzed about the school’s curriculum. “They came with demands but were speaking very politely,” the educator recalled. “They took a laptop from the safe — it wasn’t even mine; it was the laptop of a primary teacher — and two history books for eighth grade.”She said her captors put a black hood over her head before bundling her into a vehicle and taking her to another location where her interrogation continued.”They asked about my attitude to the ‘military operation,’ they accused me of being too patriotic, too nationalistic,” she said. “They asked why I use the Ukrainian language … why I go to Ukrainian church.”Nina said they wanted her to reopen the school and ensure that the children returned, but she argued that it wasn’t safe for students or teachers.”I don’t know how long they held me, I couldn’t feel time, I was sitting in this black hood, they took it off only during interrogation,” continued Nina, whose last name CNN has withheld for security reasons. Eventually she was released — but not before her captors had “emphasized that they know about my son and reminded me that I have a daughter,” she said, adding: “I considered it a threat.”Days later — fearful that the Russian troops would return — Nina and her family fled.Russian interference Nina’s experience is not an isolated incident. Reports of threats against educators in newly occupied regions have been steadily growing as the conflict has escalated. One teacher told CNN that Russian troops had approached the principal of her school and “ordered her to hand over all the schoolbooks of Ukrainian language and history, but the principal refused. Her position was so strict that somehow they didn’t put any other pressure … They left emptyhanded.”Some teachers have been able to resume classes for students online, using virtual classrooms similar to those set up during the coronavirus pandemic. But for others, lessons have ground to a halt as internet services are disrupted and schools near the fighting have been forced to close their doors.’);$vidEndSlate.removeClass(‘video__end-slate–inactive’).addClass(‘video__end-slate–active’);}};CNN.autoPlayVideoExist = (CNN.autoPlayVideoExist === true) ? true : false;var configObj = {thumb: ‘none’,video: ‘world/2022/05/12/ukrainian-refugee-school-bucharest-romania-lon-orig-tp.cnn’,width: ‘100%’,height: ‘100%’,section: …

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