Ukrainian students build classroom on only hill with signal

STORY: At the top of this hill in the Ukrainian village of Hontarivka sits a makeshift remote classroom.

It's the only place in the area that has strong mobile signal – something resourceful fifth-grader Mykola Dziuba and his friends wanted to take advantage of.

They gather in the rickety structure, ready to study.

"We come here and sit for two to three hours. Sometimes, we only sit one hour here. When it got cold recently, it wasn't too great, so we didn’t want to sit around for long, one hour was the maximum."

Dziuba's school in eastern Ukraine has been in distance-learning mode since the start of the new school year last September.

Unable to go to school, Dziuba and his friends sought out their own spaces for learning.

He said they collected plastic sheeting, wooden poles, bricks and sand from around their homes to build the structure.

In the shadow of a water tower on a low hill, they discovered the mobile coverage was strong enough to use.

"When internet connection appeared on the hill, we put up a table on which we could put a smartphone. We started catching 3G, we had a good connection, and other people started coming there too."

The students listen to lectures and send assignments back and forth to their teacher via messaging apps.

School director Liudmyla Myronenko was impressed by the childrens' tenacity.

"I was really in awe of the children. I didn’t expect them to create something like this. We did forward them work books, told them some things (forwarded lessons, materials orally). But they wanted to see us, they wanted to communicate with us somehow. The children really miss talking, communicating with us in real life. Thanks to the internet, however bad it might be, we can communicate with the children."

Russia's invasion of Ukraine 11 months ago sparked a conflict that has killed thousands and ravaged swathes of territory.

Damage has been especially severe in Ukraine's south and east.