Drones and Kalashnikovs as learning materials for Ukrainian teenagers

Shooting a rifle, dismantling a Kalashnikov or learning to fly a drone: it’s all part of one training day a year and seven months after the start of a war that is all too real for a group of a dozen teenagers in Lviv, western Ukraine.

The young people – men and women – hold a black training assault rifle in their hands, some a little awkwardly, while their instructor watches them learn to shoot at virtual targets against a forest backdrop projected on a wall.

In another class, a man dressed in military fatigues with Ukrainian insignia on his shoulder shows teenagers how to take apart and reassemble a Kalashnikov piece by piece.

Then it’s time for a lesson on how to familiarize yourself with the latest weapons: grenades, mines, gas masks, all of which are part of daily life on the front lines in Ukraine.

“I am very happy that a military center like this was opened. There is a lot to do here,” says Danyl Porchenko, a 11th grade student.

A number of firearms are laid out on a table, ranging from sniper rifles to portable rocket launchers and even anti-tank weapons.

Another lesson is shooting an air rifle against targets a few yards away.

“This is an extremely interesting and necessary course,” says Olena, a 10th grade student, “because we live in wartime and we don’t know what will happen in the future. We may need it at any time “.

Iryna Brozniuk, in the same year, admits that “I have such adrenaline when shooting. I shot a ‘ten’ (score), I was shooting for the second time.”

She adds that she hopes she never has to do it for real “but just in case, you have to know everything.”

Piloting a virtual drone is taught via computer to show students a little of this modern method of warfare that has become a hallmark of the war ravaging their country.

Some students try to take a joystick in hand and pilot the virtual drone on a set-up circuit.

“I find this very useful, because the situation is such that at some point we may need these skills,” says 11th grader Vladyslav Rudyk.

After 19 months of conflict, the war has permeated every level of Ukrainian society, from children’s games to school curricula and beyond.

In Russia, authorities have reintroduced military training into school curricula, including teaching students to fly drones and generally become familiar with combat equipment.

Boys learn to fly a drone using simulators during a lesson at a military-patriotic center

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