Due to Russian aggression and occupiers’ attacks on civilian infrastructure, only a third of Ukrainian schoolchildren have the opportunity to study full-time in a face-to-face format. More than 4,100 schools in Ukraine have been destroyed or damaged. That is why Ukrainian schools practice mixed methods – online and offline – in safe shelters underground.

The pro-Kremlin media are spreading yet more disinformation about the “high precision” of the Russian army’s strikes on Ukrainian cities and the alleged “absence” of occupiers’ attacks on civilian objects in Ukraine. Commenting on the intention of the authorities of Kharkiv, one of the most damaged Ukrainian cities, to start building an underground school, Russian media stated that this decision was allegedly just a “show for the sake of shocking photos and PR.”

The most important thing is that it is already obvious to everyone: all these initiatives are being taken only to steal the budget money once again. It is obvious that schoolchildren in ordinary schools are not in danger… There is no need to turn this into a show for the sake of shocking photos and PR, driving people underground like rats and moles,” the propagandists write.

The propaganda media “forgot” to note that Ukrainian schoolchildren are forced to study in shelters underground due to constant Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure, including educational institutions. 

According to UNICEF, kindergartens, schools, hospitals, water supply facilities and energy infrastructure in Ukraine are under constant Russian shelling, which has damaged many facilities and completely destroyed some. As a result of Russian aggression, the UN Children’s Fund experts emphasize that Ukrainian children are left without access to basic rights such as education and healthcare, which endangers their lives and well-being. Only a third of Ukrainian schoolchildren have the opportunity to study full-time in an offline classroom. The rest of the children either study in a mixed mode or have switched to online education entirely.

According to the Ministry of Education of Ukraine and UNICEF, as of November 2023, more than 4,100 Ukrainian schools have been destroyed or damaged by the occupiers throughout the country. Of these, 51 educational institutions were completely destroyed in the Kharkiv region, and 579 schools, kindergartens, universities and other educational institutions were partially damaged. 

The closure of schools and kindergartens due to Russian attacks prevents children from accessing full-time education on a regular basis. Although children can continue their education online, they lose the opportunity to communicate with their peers and teachers, which is crucial for their development. That is why in Kharkiv, as well as in a number of other Ukrainian cities, mixed learning is practiced – online and offline in safe places. 

For Kharkiv, the subway has become such a place. 19 classrooms have been equipped at five Kharkiv metro stations that meet wartime safety and educational standards. The classrooms are equipped with noise insulation and climate control, and the rooms are isolated from the platforms on which the trains move. There are 105 classes and 2087 children studying in the subway in several shifts. Most of them are primary and middle school students. 

Given the demand among parents for offline education in safe places, in October 2023, the city authorities announced their intention to start building the first underground school. The cost of construction is UAH 58 million, and the school will be able to accommodate 450 students, or 900 children in two shifts. Preparatory construction work has already begun, according to Kharkiv authorities. 

Russia is constantly trying to deny that the occupation forces attacked the civilian population of Ukraine. By “strategically important military objectives” Russia means targeted strikes on residential areas of Ukraine and attacks on civilians.

Read a detailed analyzes of similar narratives in StopFake’s materials Fake: Russian Army Never Attacks Churches or Cultural Sites and Fake: Ukrainian Air Force Admits That Ukrainian Air Defense Missiles Hit Residential Buildings.