Occupied Donetsk prepares for new school year with Kremlin curriculum

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American politician Wilma Mankiller once said, “whoever controls the education of our children controls our future.”  And the Kremlin is applying that philosophy as hundreds of children are making their way back to the classroom.

Schools and teachers in the Russian-controlled Donetsk region are preparing for the new school year under a Russian curriculum and with Russian textbooks.

The Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Vitality Khotsenko assures all grades will be supplied with the mandatory academic materials.

“We will fully supply our schools of the Donetsk People’s Republic – all grades, from first to 11th. We have history, Russian, literature, geography. We hope that the children will study proper literature and acquire proper knowledge,” he says.

New rules in Mariupol

Larisa Volodyuk, is a librarian at a school in Mariupol. 

The port city fell completley under Russian control earlier in May and since then, loclas have slowly been rebuilding their lives.

Going through the books she has received, Volodyuk highlights that there is not a single Ukrainian book left in the school or storage. She also adds that the new materials are much better, with more colours, examples and information than before.

She says the materials they have received are brand new editions from 2022 and that the literature list has been completely reviewed.

Race to rebuild

In Mariupol, many schools have been severely damaged by shelling. While reconstruction is in full swing, many will not be ready for the new school year.

Another urgent problem facing local  authorities is the lack of teachers. 

However, the leaders of the self-proclaimed Republic of Donetsk claim that there are many volunteer teachers willing to come from Russia to teach.

Some of those teachers will likely only come for the start of the academic year, authorities say.