“Tanks On the Playground”: Attacks on Schools and Military Use of Schools in Ukraine

Human Rights Watch
Attacks on Education

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has devastated schools and kindergartens throughout the country, Human Rights Watch said in a report and video released today. Since February 2022, over 3,790 educational facilities have been damaged or destroyed, according to Ukrainian government figures, severely interrupting access to education for millions of children.

The 71-page report, “Tanks on the Playground,” documents the damage and destruction of schools and kindergartens in four Ukrainian regions during the first months of the fighting. Most of the damage to educational facilities resulted from aerial attacks, artillery shelling, rocket strikes, and, in some cases, attacks using cluster munitions – causing significant damage to roofs, the collapse of walls, and major debris in classrooms. Russian forces frequently looted and pillaged schools they occupied, a war crime.

“Ukrainian children have paid a high price in this war because attacks on education are attacks on their future,” said Hugh Williamson, director of the Europe and Central Asia division at Human Rights Watch. “The international community should condemn the damage and destruction of schools in Ukraine and looting by Russian forces.”