After the covid, Czech education faces another challenge: the integration of tens of thousands of Ukrainian children into education. According to Miroslav Hřebecký, director of the program of the Education Information Center EDUin, the state reacted quickly, but it must be ready to deliberately search for children who are not registered by their parents in school by themselves. same.
According to him, it is necessary to integrate Ukrainian pupils among Czech pupils as soon as possible. But there is no need for capacity everywhere. At the same time, however, Czechia will inevitably deprive Ukraine of some of the most active citizens who will be missing in the restoration of the country there, he warns in an interview with Seznam Zprávy.
How does the state deal with the wave of refugees from an education perspective if you need a degree?
In summary, I wouldn’t oversimplify, after all, we know how misleading grades in education are…
So verbal evaluation?
Including the formative, let’s say right away what can be improved. We can therefore boast of how we have approached the refugee crisis as a society and also that education is not a Benjamin and its agenda is not lost among other ministries. Of course, there are problems, but I was pleasantly surprised by the speed of the response from the state administration, whether it be the methodologies or the lex Ukraine and the relevant paragraphs governing the ‘education. But in general, as a company, we have the main problem that we play with covered cards. It is not known how long the crisis will last. The number of people coming, some even returning, has decreased, so we don’t know how many of them we can count on in the long term. This also applies to schools and the involvement of Ukrainian refugees in education.
So can we do something better in terms of planning and involving children for the next school year, or are we really dependent on weekly feedback because, as you say, “we are playing with hidden cards”?
Not only are they covered, but other cards will be dealt, and of course we don’t know them. But what will be the problem in the future and I see it at the local level – we are starting to form a group of Ukrainian refugees, which is relatively passive. And it will be difficult to reach them and integrate them into society, because social workers abroad know where the large refugee or immigrant communities live.
We must actively seek out forgotten children
Many Czech schools are already solving these problems in places where children do not enjoy such a stimulating home environment. So, with the arrival of Ukrainian refugees, should we be prepared for this scenario to become widespread?
Yes. I will give an example of us from Benešov. The kindergarten director wants to start an adaptation group, but she doesn’t have enough children yet. The offer is everywhere. The Center for the Integration of Foreigners knows it, the town hall, and the information reaches the refugees. However, many people who do not start working immediately keep their children at home. Yes, a layer of university students, oriented and deeply motivated, came to the Czech Republic, but this is not the majority. We must therefore be prepared for the fact that we will have to launch an active search for children in compulsory education no later than September 1st.
Admittedly, the high schools did not do all they could. Most are not prepared for the integration of foreigners and cannot work with pupils of different mother tongues, unlike, for example, primary schools, which on the one hand have this obligation under the law and on the other hand , foreigners have been coming to them for many years.
Of course, we cannot want this in schools. We have to ask ourselves if the social work system is ready for this. We are only talking about children who attend compulsory school. But we also have to take care of high school students. At the same time, only 1,200 of them applied for the entrance exams for the graduation courses, but according to the Ministry of Education, there are about 25,000 refugees of school age. secondary school in the Czech Republic. Although some of them are still learning through online education, one has to wonder what the level of such education is and especially how long it is possible to work in this way and what can be followed.
When you mentioned the high school students, Ukraine forgave them the entrance exam in the Czech language, but they still have to pass an interview in Czech. And all schools will only approach it formally. So, in a way, aren’t we transferring these active students to the second college, because they can’t really learn Czech in a few weeks?
Admittedly, the high schools did not do all they could. Most are not prepared for the integration of foreigners and cannot work with pupils of different mother tongues, unlike, for example, primary schools, which on the one hand have this obligation under the law and on the other hand , foreigners have been coming to them for many years. But look at the statement from the president of the Association of Grammar School Principals (Renata Schejbalova – red note.), who talks about exams in Czech during the interview and immediately recommends those interested in secondary school to repeat the ninth grade to learn Czech. In other words, a number of secondary schools are losing ground to the inclusion of Ukrainian students in primary schools, and I would be a bit confused about that.
But isn’t it also a mistake on the part of the Ministry of Education or the founders that secondary schools do not have support for teaching foreigners?
The state should absolutely not fall asleep, and funds should also be allocated for secondary education. On the other hand, high schools obviously don’t want to burn their hands too much, at least not high schools. However, there may actually be a problem with vocational high schools. If you ignore the fact that the student does not understand you, you still cannot let him into the workshop, because he could get injured if he does not understand the principles of workplace safety.
We must not separate Ukrainian children
So if I ask in general. Do schools have enough support from the state and their founders to successfully integrate Ukrainian students?
I would almost say that the methodological support is sufficient. Even in practice, it turns out that the directors do not even have time to get acquainted with all the materials, because they solve the integration “on the spot” and do not have time to read long methodologies. As for the founders, action mayors have worked again, who can help their administrators. But then we have long-standing waters in municipalities where the director cannot rely on the founder in normal times, let alone now.
In the long term, we must not create segregated Ukrainian classes. Adaptation groups are good, but from the start of the school year, Ukrainian children must be integrated into ordinary schools, because otherwise we will begin to create various “Parisian suburbs” not integrated into the Czech Republic.
So what do we need in terms of education to deal with the current situation as a society?
It is necessary for the Ministry of Education to have an analytical team that will systematically focus on the integration of Ukrainian refugees and will be in constant contact with other ministries – the Ministries of Health, Labor and Social or Interior Affairs. But data is needed for this. The Ministries of Interior and Education must therefore regularly update how many and where we have children and what the local capacities are. So to continue what the Department of Education has now started, gather information on current capabilities. In the long term, we must not create segregated Ukrainian classes. Adaptation groups are good, but from the start of the school year, Ukrainian children must be integrated into ordinary schools, because otherwise we will begin to create various “Parisian suburbs” not integrated into the Czech Republic.
In some districts, but according to data from the Ministry of Education, we are already reaching the limit. Schools do not even have the capacity to accommodate students in their district, let alone newly arrived refugees. In such cases, perhaps all that remains is to create purely Ukrainian groups?
If we are realistic, there may be, for example, fifty Ukrainian children in a satellite ring around Prague, for which the schools will simply not have the capacity. This may result in some small Ukrainian classes, but it is a virtue that needs. First of all, it will be better for them to be able to return home. If the conditions do not allow it or if the families do not want to return, the integration must be started as soon as possible. This means dispersing Ukrainian children among Czechs. If even that is not possible, it is still better for the Ukrainian small class than leaving homeless children at home. However, we must realize that rapid integration has a negative impact on Ukraine. Inevitably, we will suck in the most active people and undermine the future renewal of their state.