The first school welcomed children who had fled Ukraine before the war on Monday. A hundred children of various ages welcomed the 1st Slavic Lyceum in Prague. They will be taught by Ukrainian teachers so that the children can continue the education they had in their country of origin. Gradually, many more individual classes will open throughout the Czech Republic. The atmosphere in the fourth-grade classroom at Prague High School on Monday was reminiscent of the first day of school.
First-graders first day of school attack the observer looking into one of the classrooms of the 1st Slavic Lyceum in Prague. There are fifteen children seated on benches, pencils and coloring books in front of them, standing behind them and watched by caring parents. The program also corresponds to the first day of school, today the pupils are mainly brought to get to know their classmates and the new environment. But it’s not September, it’s March, and the kids there are going to fourth grade.
They are Ukrainian children who fled to the Czech Republic with their parents before the war. The high school, located near the Old Town Square, is one of the first Czech schools to adopt and teach Ukrainian children.
The project, which aims to open Ukrainian one-room schools in Czech schools, is organized by the Embassy of Ukraine in collaboration with the Endowment Fund for Children of Ukraine and the rector of Charles University, Tomáš Zima, and is also supported by the Ministry of Education. Children will learn in their mother tongue with Ukrainian teachers in a classroom. In addition to Prague, they will also sit on school benches in Brno next week, with more classes increasing over time.
Photo: Lukas Biba
A hundred Ukrainian children divided into classes according to age will start learning this week at the 1st Slavic Lyceum. The school has offered the premises since the other students have spring break this week. From next week, however, most children will transfer to other schools, leaving only twenty-fourths. According to Rector de Winter, children between the ages of about six and seventeen can enroll in individual classes; in Ukraine, the basic education is eleven years.
“The intention is that the education is in line with what the children learned in Ukraine, so that they have the subjects they are used to.
However, the teaching itself is not yet the most important. As Ukrainian Ambassador Yevhen Perebyjnis pointed out, for example, many Ukrainian children have psychological problems because of the war. “At the moment, they are more in the first place to come back to a system, to have a timetable and to come up with other ideas. Teachers and psychologists will do their best to familiarize themselves with the Czech environment, get to know Prague Visits to galleries will also be included, museums or sports activities, and the educational approach will be added to this gradually, ”describes the director.
Photo: Lukas Biba
Neighborhoods come from all regions of Ukraine. They smile at journalists, talk to each other and are also a little ashamed at first. One of the students reveals to the press that he likes to paint and proudly shows his paintings. They also have questions like other curious children: “Maybe they asked me if I knew which state had a red dot on the flag, or if I knew the capital of Ukraine”, says the one of the volunteers.
But these students, marked by the events of recent days, often ask for even more serious things. “One of the boys asked me why Russia was attacking Ukraine. I told him it was a difficult question that needed more time,” the volunteer added.
Local teachers also expect their children to ask them about these things. Director Pergler therefore also counts on the involvement of psychologists and educational advisers. “You will talk about it with the children, we have to talk about it. We will do it according to the instructions of the Ministry of Education, it is very delicate,” he says.
Last week, the ministry sent schools a methodology for talking to children about war. He advises, for example, that it is necessary to introduce a common starting principle in the classroom, which is peace and mutual respect. “It means listening to each other, even if our opinions are different,” the manual says.
“Everything is different now”
One of the fourth graders who started their studies here is David, who came with his mother Anastasia from the Chernivtsi region in western Ukraine. Anastasija speaks Czech as she previously worked in the Czech Republic. “It was terrible there, we had to go to the Czech Republic, thank you all,” says Anastasija, who now lives in Prague with two children.
She wants them both to go to school as soon as possible so she can get down to business. David has the best math and Anastasia wants to become a computer technician. She has so far chosen the Ukrainian course for her son because she is afraid that he will lose his level of proficiency. “But I also want him to learn Czech, we want to respect the state we live in,” adds Anastasija.
Photo: Lukas Biba
One of David’s teachers will be Ljuba, who previously worked in high school in the so-called Saturday school. On Monday, she also brought her grandson Bohdan to school, who also fled to the Czech Republic with his mother. From Lvov. The boy plays with the woman’s purse, but when he hears the word war, he becomes more lively. “He says it’s terrible,” translates Ljuba. “They completely destroyed Kharkov,” he sighs. “Bohdan had his class there, his classmates. And now everything is different. He’s sad. But I think we can handle it and maybe come back afterwards,” adds Ljuba.
Ukrainian teachers or parents who want to put their child in one class can apply at www.detiukrajiny.cz. In addition to teachers, teaching assistants or educators must be found.
The single class will be mainly in the big cities
Gradually, many more one-class schools for Ukrainian children should be opened in the Czech Republic. Currently, 20 of them have joined the project, their total number will depend on the number of children who fled here before the war. One hundred thousand refugees have already arrived in the Czech Republic, half of them children.
“This project will not be immediately extended to the whole territory. There will be schools where only two children are needed and there will be dozens elsewhere. These cases must be judged individually and each school must be arranged according to its capacities. adapt to this,” Education Minister Petr Gazdík (STAN) said last week. According to him, it is currently possible to include about 100,000 Ukrainian children in ordinary Czech classes.
Photo: Lukas Biba
Most refugees go to Prague and Central Bohemia, but there are few vacancies in schools and kindergartens in and around the capital. “For the system to work, the placement of children in schools needs to be spread across the country,” Gazdík said. It will therefore be necessary, according to him, to convince the Ukrainians that they must also stay in other regions.
According to the rector of Charles University, Tomas Zima, single-class Ukrainian classes should be established mainly in large cities and also in municipalities with a larger number of Ukrainians. According to him, children who will live in smaller villages will benefit from being picked up from schools. “We will gradually contact the regional authorities. It is difficult to estimate how many unique classes will be created here, but there will certainly be dozens,” adds Zima.
In addition to Ukrainian teachers, children should also receive school books for mothers. “We ensured the transport of educational texts from Ukraine,” adds Zima. The Endowment Fund for Children of Ukraine also provides that in addition to education, leisure activities such as sports clubs and, for example, art education will be offered to children over time.