Back to school for Ossetian children

Seven of fourteen schools in South Ossetia's war-torn capital of Tskhinval opened in time for the start of the academic year on Monday. Four hundred workers from Russia's special construction company, Spetzstroi, worked

The first lesson of the day focuses on the events of the past several weeks and the bloody conflict which forced many of the children and their parents to flee the city. Teachers say it is important for the students to come to terms with the violence and horrors they have been exposed to.

Officials from Russia's Emergency Ministry will give special classes on dealing with critical situations should the city become the target of another attack. Students will be taught first aid, as well as how to deal with fires and how to take shelter in the event of a bombing.

Thanks to humanitarian aid from Russia and other countries, the children have everything they need to begin the school year as normal, including 60,000 textbooks which have just arrived from Moscow.

Work is still underway to rebuild the remaining schools, as well as Tskhinval's university which was almost completely levelled, leaving only the biology faculty intact.

The president of the newly independent republic, Eduard Kokoity, visited the schools in the morning and shook the hand of every first-year pupil.

“Together we must restore our republic from ruins. We must wipe the ruins from the memories of the children. Our children should not be enraged. They should be happy, smiling and courageous people,” said Kokoity.