Gas masks, trenches, grenades, patriotic, hatred anthems on loop, and wooden guns…. Hundreds of children play war games while they are getting trained in military disciplines and in firing tactics… The armed conflict between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists is entering its fifth year; the conflict is still festering and the need of reinforcing the sense of unity and patriotism has been injected into the veins of a new generation not only in the schools but dozens of clubs and summer camps have also been promoted across both countries forming an integral part of a nation-wide initiative for the “military-patriotic education of the population”
Over the past 27 years, as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, patriotic lessons have slowly increased. Once a relic of the Soviet era, patriotic youth clubs in UKRAINE and DONETSK REGION are gaining new popularity, offering military training to their members. On 2014, Patriotism has become the driving force of the Euro-Maidan revolution.
Patriotism teaches children discipline and confidence. It main goal is to embrace patriotism and to prepare its students for modern society; reinforcing the idea of being ready against the aggressor. Fake Kalashnikovs, military uniforms, anthems, aims, dehumanization of the others (“the enemy”)..
The time for playing with toys is gone. Childhood in Ukraine and Donetsk is being eroded by the conflict and it has turned into another way to spread propaganda.
Education has been hijacked by patriotism.
Part of this story was published on NAT GEO in 2019