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Ukrainian-Language School In Donetsk Facing Closure

Parents and teachers protest against the closing of a Ukrainian language school in Donetsk.
DONETSK, Ukraine -- One of the oldest Ukrainian-language schools in the eastern city of Donetsk is facing closure, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Donetsk city authorities say they are closing the school in the Petro district because many schools in the city are only half full and some shutdowns were needed.

But teachers and parents of students enrolled at the Ukrainian-language school have asked officials why it was chosen for closure and not a Russian-language school.

School principal Svitlana Babenko told RFE/RL that closing the school has been under discussion for four months. She said it was very likely her school would be closed as it is operating at only 51 percent of capacity and is near two other schools that also have low enrollment.

Former principal Ivan Zhuravka told RFE/RL the school just marked its 90th anniversary and that former graduates include parents and grandparents of many current students. He expressed hope that local authorities would reverse their decision.

Open Letter

Meanwhile, teachers and parents have signed an open letter to the Donetsk municipal authorities urging them not to close the school.

Of the more than 200 schools in Donetsk, only 36 provide instruction in Ukrainian. In the last 30 years of the Soviet Union, all schooling in Donetsk was conducted in Russian.

Although there is an almost equal number of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians in Donetsk, use of Russian language predominates in the city.

Donetsk is the fifth-largest city in Ukraine with around 1 million inhabitants.

Read in Ukrainian here