September marks the start of the new school year in Ukraine, where attacks by the Russian army have lasted for over six months. During the summer holidays, the Ukrainian Ministry of Education issued a decree stating that schools in Ukraine may only start operating if they have enough shelters where students and all staff can take cover in case of direct fire. The concern is quite justified. Evaluations by the Ukrainian authorities show that 2,300 of the total 17,000 schools in Ukraine have already been damaged by the belligerent attacks.
The need to provide shelters poses particular challenges for all schools in Ukraine - but especially for Waldorf schools, only a small proportion of which receive any state support at all. Already two Waldorf schools in Ukraine have asked us for financial support to build a shelter: The small school in Krivij Rih and the Stupeni Waldorf School in Odessa. The latter reports on the construction work: "We have started building the air-raid shelter in order to be able to start face-to-face teaching as soon as possible. For our school, the focus is on person-to-person learning, which was also shown by the parents' survey. Most of them want their children to participate in face-to-face teaching." The work is progressing well; the school basement has been deepened, the floor has been concreted and cables for electricity and communication have been laid. But the costs are great: "To do this we have spent all the remaining money in the school accounts, including the remaining salary for August and all our savings. Now, we are starting to work with construction workers on credit," reports the headmistress of the Stupeni Waldorf School. But we want to avoid this unfavourable redistribution of costs, because the teachers still need reliable salaries. If they no longer get enough money from the school, they have to find other work to support themselves. Their reliable presence at school is especially important for the children and young people now. We are therefore happy for every donation for Waldorf schools in Ukraine.