Ukrainian teacher Ogsana Bilik helps them manage the first days and hours of school.
“It just came to our knowledge at that time. The younger ones have become friends with the older ones, the older ones are trying to help the younger ones. So far they are all holding together and it seems there have a good mood with each other. I was with them for the first time yesterday and there was no problem between them or us in communication. Of course, the elders help each other in teaching as well as the translators on the phone, and some of them copy each other,” smiles the experienced teacher Ogsana.
Although some children of Ukrainian refugees sat on the school desks yesterday or today, during the few days they spent with their parents in the Czech Republic, they have already learned important Czech words such as “hello”, “thank you” or the question “what is it?” Older people can already say “I’ll be careful” or “apple” or the word “cool”.
“However, they learned the expressions of other children at school so quickly that they shouldn’t say anything at all. And they do their best,” notes school principal Libor Novotný with a smile.
Seventy children have already started school in Ostrava
However, this primary school on Nádražní Street is used to foreigners and is intended for children with different mother tongues. It is this school which has received most of the Ukrainian children in recent days, who had to flee the country with their mothers in the face of the Russian occupier.
And others are coming. For example, several new children came to the classroom where children “destroy” the first days of primary school on Nádražní Street.
“Our priority is to integrate Ukrainian children into regular classes among other students after a short time. Social workers help us with this, and the integration itself is already handled by individual schools,” said said Andrea Hoffmannová, deputy mayor of Ostrava for education and sports.
She added that the city prefers to place children in schools where they currently live. “Currently, the primary and kindergartens in Ostrava have accepted 68 pupils. Ostrava currently has a total of 65 kindergartens and 55 primary schools, which are established by the city and in particular the city districts. So we have currently enough capacity for more Ukrainian children,” the deputy mayor said.
There are plenty of places for Ukrainian children in schools in Ostrava
How many Ukrainian children would go to schools in Ostrava? Ostrava currently has about 160 vacancies in kindergartens and about 2,000 vacancies in primary schools.
“According to people registered at the Regional Assistance Center for Assistance to Ukraine in Černá louka, we estimate that the number of children who could stay in the Moravian-Silesian region and go to school there in the area could so far be around six hundred . So there will be no problem in placing children. There are also free capacities in kindergartens and primary schools of other founders, “a said today Andrea Hoffmannová.
Andrea Hoffman. Photo: Petr Broulik
The deputy assured that all schools also have educational guidance centers, namely educational advisers, school psychologists, social workers, educational assistants and specialized pedagogues.
They get used to school for a while, then move on to peers
Ukrainian children, who have already started to attend school in Ostrava, experience a short adaptation to the new school environment. “For example, they have their small classes where they get used to it. But right after, in a few days, we will integrate them among the other students in the regular classes. But the parents don’t have to rush, they have three months to enroll their child in school. It mainly depends on the condition and mental state of the children”, underlines the deputy mayor for education and sports Andrea Hoffmannová.
He adds that the education department’s ambition is certainly not for Ukrainian children to pass math tests in a week and be at the same level as their classmates. “The integration foresees that these children will mainly get used to the new team by the end of the school year,” said the deputy mayor in charge of education.
There are also entertainment and sports for Ukrainian children
And how does it work in practice? As soon as the families of the refugees register at the Regional Assistance Center for Ukraine in Montenegro, the social worker of the district of the relevant city will contact them on the basis of this information. And it will offer them a complete accommodation and schooling service. Also, parents who want to entertain their child in these tense moments can take advantage of the offer in the form of a database of leisure, sports and leisure activities for Ukrainian children and mothers with children.
These special offers have been created by the city’s leisure centers and the children’s and youth center. These are activities for parents with children, clubs and courses for children. It also actively offers the opportunity to involve children in sports clubs. Children coming from Ukraine are, for example, excellent gymnasts, dancers, athletes and football players, and some have already joined sports clubs, according to MP Andrey Hoffmann. These athletes can immediately build on their lives. Many clubs even offer free memberships, as well as collections of sports equipment needed by the athlete.
Some children have nothing, they need aids or notebooks
Libor Novotný, director of the primary school on Nádražní Street, said that his school was intended for the education of foreign children. “We are ready to expand the teaching of the Ukrainian language a little more, here we have French, Korean and Vietnamese children. We have experience with children who do not speak Czech at all. We approach each child individually. But these Ukrainian children are doing well, because most of the colleagues still have some basics of the Russian language, and these Ukrainian children are able to communicate with us in Russian or partly in English,” says school principal Libor Novotný and calculates that more refugee children came to the second year of his school, by a ratio of about three to five.
“At first glance they are very intelligent children, the only problem with them is really only the language barrier, but we are able to break down quickly. Unfortunately, some children have nothing at all, so you have to equip with basic teaching aids, notebooks, pencils, but it can always be done in two or three days,” explains the principal of the primary school.
Ukrainian children do not feel lost
Milena Nováková, a social teacher at the primary school on Nádražní Street, explains that on the first day of the child’s arrival, she always talks to the child and his mother and gives them a phone number.
“For example, I will include children who need it in the free meals program. We will introduce them to other Ukrainian students in the class. But some know each other from the accommodation. I don’t think she feels lost “, says social teacher Milena Nováková. And he adds that the translator they have in their smartphones also helps Ukrainian children a lot to communicate.
Various specialists also help Ukrainian children. “They are ready to work individually with children, with whole classes and parents, even with methodological support from the city. In addition to this support, schools can create a so-called adaptation coordinator.”
The city is looking for external educators from Ukraine
Today there are a total of two primary schools in Ostrava for children with different mother tongues, in addition to primary school Nádražní 117 in Moravská Ostrava, it is also primary school V. Košař 6 in Ostrava Dubina. If the schools do not have enough people, the city is ready to provide assistance, call for a call and actively search for suitable personnel.
The city is also looking for experts among incoming Ukrainian mothers who can apply in the current situation in schools and educational institutions. “We have already managed to find some of these specialists and job seekers in teaching. We are also looking for external educators for the leisure center who would work with groups of parents with children, as well as in circles and other planned activities,” said MP Andrea Hoffmannová.
The city also recommended schools to register their educational opportunities for Ukrainian children and pupils on the Shkola portal, see https://shkola.cz/. Current information on the topic of including children in schooling in the Czech Republic can be found on the talentova.cz website.