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Some children will be educationally left behind due to war: Ukrainian MP

TVP World’s World News has interviewed Inna Sovsun, Ukrainian MP and former Deputy Minister of Education talks about the educational challenges Ukrainian children are facing because Russia invaded their country.

TVP World’s World News interviewed Ukrainian MP Inna Sovsun. In addition to being a legislator, Ms. Sovsun is also a mother. Today she went back to Kyiv to continue her work in her capacity as a Member of the Parliament. She talked about how when she was tucking in her son the previous night, the boy expressed his wish to go with her. Kyiv is his home. “I wish I could go with you. But because of this stupid war, I can’t,” he said. Ms. Sovsun believes this sentiment is shared by many children who have found themselves displaced by the Russian invasion.

Ms. Sovsun served as a Deputy of Minister of Education several years ago, so TVP World asked her about how the war is impacting the education of Ukrainian children. She stated that the most visible concern is the destruction of infrastructure, which will have to be rebuilt. But an even more worrying matter is the effect on children. Children are often unable to attend classes. Some can attend classes remotely, which somewhat mitigates the situation, but not all can do that. What is worse, many children have been traumatised, which may lead to catching up taking longer than the time they were deprived of access to education.

There are also reports that Russian occupiers are trying to enforce the Russian curriculum in the occupied areas. Children in Crimea and the parts of Donbas under the control of the pro-Russian separatists have already experienced this. Many have nonetheless come to continue their higher education in parts of the country under the control of the legitimate government. Russian schools have not managed to strip them of their Ukrainian identity, but they are a good example of the damage that the Russian education system can cause. Currently, in the south of the country, many teachers refuse to teach using the Russian curriculum despite the pressure, but it is not possible to tell how long they will be able to stand firm.

Children who have become refugees abroad are facing other challenges, depending on the country in which they have found themselves. In some countries, they are required to attend local schools. This is the situation in Czechia, for example, some of the children are able to attend remote classes provided by schools back in Ukraine in addition to those in Czechia. But not all children have access to this, often for technical reasons. This means there is a risk they may lose touch with their own culture. The Ukrainian government is trying to make arrangements with the governments hosting child refugees to enable them to participate in classes in the Ukrainian language, culture, and history to prevent them from losing their identity.

TVP World also asked Ms. Sovsun about statements made by some Western politicians, who advise Ukrainians to give up parts of their territories in exchange for peace. Henry Kissinger was one of the people who expressed a similar idea recently during the Davos World Economic Forum. Ms. Sovsun did not mince words: she called Kissinger’s statement “shameful”, and said that it is a pity that the former Secretary of State of a country that promotes freedom should say something like that, especially at a meeting of world leaders such as Davos.

She also pointed out that Kissinger has Russian connections. In 2016 he was made an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. That was two years after Russia illegally occupied Crimea and started the war in the Donbas. She points out, the Russian Academy of Sciences is another cog in the Russian propaganda machine. Connections such Mr. Kissinger’s need to be exposed, in her opinion, and they need to be made accountable, just as the involvement of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder with Russian businesses is slowly catching up with him.

Finally, TVP World asked Ms. Sovsun whether she thinks that Russia will soon officially try to annex the occupied territories. She said it is hard to say, as all will depend on the progress Russia makes in the east of the country. Ukrainian forces are fighting fiercely, but to put them on a more equal footing with the aggressors, Ukraine needs to receive more heavy equipment from the West.

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