Stay or return home? Difficult choice for Ukrainian refugees as school year begins According to Reuters

© Reuters. Children wearing Ukrainian national costumes are seen during Children’s Day at the pedestal of the monument to Marshal Koniev, in Krakow, Poland June 1, 2022. Jakub Porzycki / Agencja via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – PHOTO THIS PHOTO HAS BEEN GIVEN

By Joanna Plucinska

WARSAW (Reuters) – Ukrainian children went to new schools across Central Europe for the first time on Thursday, staying abroad after others returned home to familiar classrooms and the dangers of war.

With many people not previously attending school as their parents, having fled to central Europe, having kept them out of local schools in hopes of a quick end to the war, the conflict continued. has caused school systems in Poland, the Czech Republic and elsewhere to prepare for the possibility of hundreds of thousands of new foreign students.

At Warsaw’s Tadeusz Gajcy school number 58, where refugee students, some wearing traditional vyshyvanka embroidered shirts, walk to class with their backpacks pulled, the Ukrainian flag standing inside the entrance.

For Jaryna Jasny, 42, the safety of the environment there outweighs any desire to return to her village near Kyiv, where she worries about the dangers her 12-year-old daughter Melania might encountered during the daily trip to school.

“The next serious discussion about going home will be in November,” she said. “Because now the situation in Ukraine simply doesn’t allow it. We have to wait a little longer.”

More than 7 million Ukrainians have fled abroad since Russia invaded in February, with nearly 4 million seeking refuge elsewhere in Europe, according to figures from the United Nations refugee agency.

Poland is home to nearly 1.3 million people, more than any other country.


With the new arrivals, Ukrainian children now make up nearly half of the school’s students, and integrating them is a challenge, said Principal Wieslawa Dziklinska of Tadeusz Gajcy School.

Many of those who signed up for the previous semester did not want to attend Polish classes because they hoped to return home quickly while the alarm bells during evacuation drills brought back memories of the war. paintings, said Dziklinska.

“Prolonged conflict means these kids don’t feel safe,” she said outside the school.

“It took us three weeks to teach the kids how to evacuate little by little because they had to adjust to get out of the building safely and we had to get them used to thinking it wasn’t an ambush. with bombs.”

Also preparing for the task of integrating more Ukrainian students are school authorities in the Czech Republic, which is hosting some 400,000 Ukrainian refugees – the largest per capita figure in Europe by number. data of the United Nations.

Czech Education Minister Vladimir Balas told reporters: “We have a problem with high school students because they have an 11-year system in Ukraine. The Czech system took 12 years to complete.

Educators there and in Poland say they will have a clearer picture of the total number of Ukrainian students after September 1, once the new semester begins.

Some did not stay.

Alla Andrushchenko said that the 8-year-old girl was able to absorb information in Polish easily, but the 15-year-old girl had difficulty learning a foreign language. This convinced her that she needed to return to Kyiv despite the war.

“As they say, there is nothing better than staying at home,” Andrushchenko said.

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