Ukraine: In bid to create ‘Russian World,’ education was weaponized

1


Ukrainians widely scoff at Moscow’s “Russian World” project, and often use the term derisively when describing the wholesale destruction wrought by Russia’s invasion of their country. Still education – and the teachers that shape the next generation of citizens – remains key to the fight for both sides.

Russian propaganda newspapers handed out across the Kharkiv region, for example, highlight the “crucial step” of gaining accreditation for schools to raise them to a “Russian standard.” Ukraine has classified teachers who work with the Russians as “collaborators” who face prosecution.

Why We Wrote This

If you want to sway hearts and minds, what better place to start than schools? In liberated Ukrainian territory is evidence that schools were indeed a focal point of Moscow’s efforts to build a “Russian World.”

Russia’s forced retreat from thousands of square miles of northeastern Ukraine is now revealing the scale of Moscow’s aims, as well as the haphazard efforts to create an idealized Russian World that were frequently undermined by the brutal realities of the occupation.

“Schools are the most important thing, the top priority of this brain war,” says Hennadii Kovzunovich, when asked why the Kyiv-based emergency services unit he commands was sent to Izium with the primary task of clearing rubble from destroyed schools.

“The Russians are trying to come to schools to produce this [pro-Russia] patriotism from the earliest age,” he says. “They are trying to brainwash kids, so it is important to re-start schools as soon as possible.”

Ukrainian emergency workers were surprised when they first entered the white-painted school in Izium, after a Ukrainian counteroffensive swept away Russian troops.

From the outside, Lyceum No. 6 appears unscathed by more than six months of Russian occupation, and ready to welcome students for the new academic year.

In fact, Russian authorities intended to showcase it as a model for teaching a new Russian curriculum, centerpiece of a hearts-and-minds effort based on shared affinity for the Russian language and culture that Moscow affectionately calls “Russkiy Mir,” or Russian World.

Why We Wrote This

If you want to sway hearts and minds, what better place to start than schools? In liberated Ukrainian territory is evidence that schools were indeed a focal point of Moscow’s efforts to build a “Russian World.”

But inside, something was missing – and not just the Ukrainian textbooks, which had been carted away to help pave the way for what Russia claimed would become a transformed Ukrainian society.

“The Russians came to this school and took all the cutlery and knives, and left the cheap, plastic ones,” says Hennadii Kovzunovich, the heavyset commander of a Ukrainian emergency services unit temporarily based at the school.

“Dishes? Really?” he asks with a tone of incredulity.

Ukrainians widely scoff at the Russian World project, and often use the term derisively when describing the wholesale destruction wrought by Russia’s invasion of their country – destruction that is increasingly evident as a Ukrainian counteroffensive recaptures swaths of occupied territory.



Source link

Comments

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More