Germany must integrate Ukrainian children into schools to free mothers

Ukrainian children should be offered up to a year of special lessons in schools and be integrated into kindergartens to allow their mothers to look for work, German educational advisers have said.

Women and children make up the bulk of the 3.6 million people who fled Ukraine after men of fighting age were banned from leaving the country following the Russian invasion.

Although many hope to return to Ukraine once it is safe, it is still important to get children into school as it gives them a “slice of normality” and daily routine and reduces the inequalities experienced by refugees, a senior official said. Expert Group.

He said in a submission to Germany’s 16 education ministers that integration courses for mothers would be wasted if they could not find childcare while they learned to speak German and found a job.

“Mostly women and children are coming from Ukraine at the moment. Onboarding offerings need to address this,” said Petra Bendel, Chair of the Expert Council on Onboarding and Migration.

Germany has registered more than 200,000 Ukrainian refugees, others are said to have arrived without alerting the authorities. The government expects that number to continue to rise as the fighting continues.

The refugees are eligible for education and employment under a European Union-wide scheme that gives them an initial one-year residence permit in the bloc.

In their proposals, the advisers said younger children should be enrolled in regular classes but spend around half their time learning German.

Older children who are further behind in German could receive special remedial lessons but should move to mainstream classes within a year, while receiving special attention for their language learning, ministers said.

Pupils who were close to completing their studies when they had to leave Ukraine could be at a particular disadvantage and officials should explore whether they could complete their qualifications remotely, the expert group said.

Claudia Diehl, one of the advisers, said schools should work to avoid large groups of Ukrainians joining a school so that they are separated from other children or isolated refugee students become isolated. .

“Experience from previous refugee movements shows that some refugees’ stay becomes permanent, even though many Ukrainians hope for a quick return,” she said.

“But early integration into the education system is important regardless of whether to stay or return.”

The panel said language teachers should offer lessons specifically for refugee mothers, but should not receive more favorable treatment than former migrants whose German lessons have been disrupted by the pandemic.

Ukrainians with education qualifications should also be encouraged to help children starting to attend schools and kindergartens, he added.

Updated: March 22, 2022, 6:56 p.m.

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