Shrill tones was what the Consul General of Ukraine told the German Education Ministers at their most recent meeting: For Ukrainian children, “so-called integration classes” would mean “a wall of misunderstanding, a feeling of inferiority and little social protection ”. , Iryna Tybinka told the panel in her speech.
Instead, he raised the demand for lessons that are customary in Ukraine. Otherwise, the returning children and youth would face the problem after their return that they lacked the material to connect to their classes.
The political message behind this demand is clear: the Ukrainian government wants to spread the belief that the war will end soon and that people will be able to return home in the near future. Moving away from the Ukrainian educational system towards a commitment to the German curriculum would not agree with this.
Beyond the martial tone of the non-diplomatic speech, the message is important: this is not a second “2015”. Not everything that applies to receiving refugees from Syria or Afghanistan serves as a model for 2022.
The desire to return will be great
Fleeing from a dictator – who is still in power today – or from the Taliban is something different from fleeing a war that, according to the current state, will not last for many years. Consequently, the group of Ukrainians who want to return home as soon as possible is probably much larger than that of Syrians or Afghans.
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However, among the hundreds of thousands of minors who have come to Germany so far, there will be many whose families are unwilling or unable to return. Even before the war, many Ukrainians were sitting on their packed suitcases or going from tourist visa to tourist visa in Germany without a work permit. Nobody knows his number.
Furthermore, no one knows what territorial consequences a future peace order will have and how quickly the destroyed streets and houses will be rebuilt. However, these factors have very different consequences for the return and therefore very different expectations of local schools.
Online school works in Ukraine
Those families who want to stay in Germany will be very grateful for the quickly organized integration classes, which have been called “welcome classes” in Berlin since 2013. But if you want to return home as quickly as possible, you would do well to use the various offers on line of ukrainian educational institutions: their textbooks are digitized, for the upper years there is an online school, as a consequence of the corona virus. Ukraine is ahead of Germany and it won’t be long before it can use these resources here.
Between these two poles, integration into the German school system here, staying in Ukrainian classes there, numerous interim solutions are currently being developed. Creative universities create new schedules that adapt to the needs of those who come: for those who are about to graduate from school, of course, a way must be found to obtain the missing material online and then be able to take the exams. The authorities and aid organizations are already trying to find Ukrainian teachers who will also offer similar classes, for those who want to return, but also for those who stay here.
“Anything that gives kids structure is good.”
Countries like Berlin, which have the promotion of native languages on their agenda, can now show that they take this political objective seriously. This also includes the fact that Ukrainian is quickly recognized as a second foreign language, so young people are not expected to learn an additional language.
However, these are all just the steps after the next. What is important here and now: quickly create school offers. “Anything that gives structure to children is good,” says a Berlin director as a motto in view of the overflowing corridors of the train station. He is correct. That’s why he has to start. Now.