Second year of online schooling for Ukraine’s young students
Amid the ongoing war, 12-year-old Victoria is one of thousands of school children to receive new laptops and tablets from UNICEF and partners
As children around the world look forward to returning to school this September, 12-year-old Victoria from Kherson, Ukraine is preparing to study online for another year.
This is because the war is going on and there is shelling outside, so it's dangerous to leave home,” the young girl explains.
Victoria's school closed on 24 February last year, when the first rockets hit Kherson and the full-scale war began to devastate lives across Ukraine.
"At the beginning of the war, it was impossible to study because there was constant shooting,” she says. “Then there was no electricity and no internet. I used to connect to the lessons from my phone as long as it was charged.”
One thing will make this year a little easier for Victoria – a brand new laptop, one of 20,000 tablets and laptops delivered to Ukrainian school children by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), thanks to funding from the European Union and the Republic of Korea.
The family kitchen table, covered with a lilac tablecloth, will be Victoria’s desk for the year.
"When the air raid siren sounds during class, I go with the dog to hide in the corridor or basement," she says.
This autumn, a further 30,000 laptops will be distributed to Ukrainian school children with support from the European Union, Austria, Finland, Germany, Japan, Norway, Slovakia, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America.
Before the war, there were 33 students in Victoria's class, but now only three are still enrolled. The youngster is afraid that she will never see her friends again.
"I haven't seen my classmates for a year and a half, since the war started,” she says. “Some went to Europe, some to Kazakhstan, and many are in safer places in Ukraine. Recently, one guy wrote that he would never return home from Poland. It's really sad."
"Last year, every day was monotonous. I would sit in the kitchen, go online and then do my homework. And every day was the same."
Due to the constant shelling, it is impossible to open schools in Kherson, even those with bomb shelters.
"Even if a school provides a safe place, you have to reach your school,” says Anastasiya, Victoria’s mother. “And we face daily shelling. Yesterday, our windows were even shaking. I can't let my daughter outside.”
Victoria says she needs to make extra effort to study remotely because it is harder to learn in this format, so her new laptop will make life easier.
"I used to have only a phone,” she says. “It was hard to read small text on it, and it was even harder to open a textbook. I had to choose whether to open Zoom or the textbook. Now it is much more comfortable to study."
But nothing comes close to going to school with her beloved friends and teachers.
“I dream that after the war will end, the school will open,” she says, “and I will be able to go to volleyball and play on the trampoline again."