Russia has damaged and destroyed nearly half of the schools, kindergartens, and universities in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, which before the war was the center of science and education in the country.
A total of 44 percent of educational institutions were damaged by Russian rocket attacks, Oleksii Litvinov, director of the Kharkiv Department of Science and Education, told ABC.
According to his data, a total of 74 facilities were destroyed and another 634 were damaged. “Among them, the majority are institutions of general secondary education, that is, schools. As of today, the number of destroyed and damaged schools throughout the region is almost 500”, the Ukrainian official said.
Kharkiv was a center of education for local and foreign students before the Russian army invaded Ukraine. “It has always been a student city since early Soviet times. We had the largest number of universities, institutes and academies during the years of Ukraine’s independence. The largest contingent of student youth”, Litvinov emphasized.
According to him, many Russians studied in Kharkiv, came to scientific conferences, symposiums and other events. Litvinov noted that this makes him “painful and bitter” to realize what is happening.
Russia could target schools, kindergartens and universities in Kharkiv. This is the conclusion reached by researchers of the Center for Information Sustainability (CIF), which is engaged in mapping Russian attacks on educational institutions in the city.
“In July 2022, we saw that even though the front line had shifted away from Kharkiv, the number of shelling of educational institutions in Kharkiv had increased”, said Belen Carrasco Rodriguez, deputy head of the project.
According to her, these were targeted attacks, not the byproduct of indiscriminate shelling. That said, a direct attack on schools is a violation of the Geneva Convention and a war crime, Carrasco Rodriguez recalled.
As a result of the rocket attacks, many children lost access to education, especially in frontline areas, and others had to switch to online learning or move to other schools, Carasco Rodriguez summarized.