The Underground Ukrainian School Resistance Against Russian Occupation

In the midst of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Nataliia, a former teacher, has taken it upon herself to provide online classes to hundreds of Ukrainian children in territories occupied by Russia. These children are subjected to a curriculum that denies the existence of Ukraine as a legitimate country and requires them to show loyalty to Russia. Nataliia and her colleagues have created a secret online teaching platform to counteract the indoctrination these children face in Russian schools.

The risks Nataliia faces are enormous, as any sign of resistance or loyalty to Ukraine could result in severe repercussions from Russian authorities. Despite the dangers, hundreds of families have embraced Nataliia’s efforts to educate their children according to the Ukrainian curriculum. Students attend Russian schools in the morning and participate in clandestine online Ukrainian lessons in the afternoon or evening with cameras off and using aliases for safety.

These secret lessons serve to maintain the children’s connection to Ukrainian culture and reality in the face of overwhelming Russian propaganda and pressure. Valera, a 14-year-old student, shared his experience of resisting Russification in his Russian school and the challenges he faces in maintaining his Ukrainian identity. Nataliia acknowledges the constant struggle to protect the minds of Ukrainian children under Russian occupation, emphasizing the importance of keeping them connected to their roots despite the obstacles.

The story of Nataliia and her underground Ukrainian school highlights the resilience and determination of Ukrainians to preserve their identity and resist foreign occupation. It sheds light on the psychological and emotional burden faced by Ukrainian children living under Russian rule and the crucial role education plays in safeguarding their heritage and future amidst adversity and oppression.