Schooling for refugees Daycares and schools in the region prepare for Ukrainian children

Rhein-Sieg district · The daycare centers and schools in the Rhine-Sieg district on the left side of the Rhine will soon be expecting refugee children from Ukraine. Their integration into everyday life may not be an easy task and Ukrainian-speaking teachers are being sought.

 Children wait at Warsaw Central Station for the next transport to their destination. Some of them will also travel on to Germany, where they will be admitted into schools and daycares.

Children wait at Warsaw Central Station for the next transport to their destination. Some of them will also travel on to Germany, where they will be admitted into schools and daycares.

Foto: dpa/Hesther Ng

According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, around 160,000 Ukrainian refugees have already arrived in Germany - a large proportion of them women and children. Preparations by municipalities and counties to accommodate them are in full swing, and special considerations are being made to provide places for children and young people in daycare centers, elementary and secondary schools.

 This is also the case in the Rhine-Sieg district on the left side of the Rhine where some Ukrainian children are already attending school. After two years of dealing with Covid, the new challenge for schools is a real effort; many teachers are exhausted from the past years.

 Seven Ukrainian pupils in Heimerzheim

In Swisttal, an initial seven children from the Ukraine have been attending grades 5, 7 and 10 at the Heimerzheim secondary school for a few days now. "We spontaneously accepted when we were asked. According to the Ministry of Education, we were supposed to help without making it complicated," explains vice principal Barbara Ulbrich. The nine newcomers in the international preparatory class learn German for three hours a day; some of them already have language skills from their previous schools, while others have a good command of English.

 A Russian-speaking teacher was present during the introductory meetings, and Russian-speaking students help the newcomers settle in during the school day. Ulbrich does not yet know what will happen next, as no figures are available from the school authorities. But one thing is clear: If more children arrive, personnel support from the ministry will be necessary.

 Children are gently being prepared for the school system

Meckenheim is primarily focusing on mother-tongue care for children and adolescents. A program is being organized for children up to the age of six, in which native speakers will provide care, although the number of hours will be more like a playgroup than a daycare center. “In this way, the children will be prepared for their new situation. An immediate start to daycare could be too much of a challenge," explains spokeswoman Marion Lübbehüsen. Establishing additional places or emergency groups is currently not an issue as the numbers of refugees do not justify it.

 Peter Hauck, head of the Meckenheim Geschwister-Scholl secondary school, also relies on native-language instruction. He is in charge of organizing the school lessons for children from the age of ten. He benefits from his work experience when many refugees arrived in 2015, even if the experience from back then is not a blueprint for the present.

 Ukrainian teachers wanted

 So for now, as part of the international preparatory class that has been in place for six years, there will be separate classes for Ukrainian students. Ukrainian-speaking staff and appropriate textbooks are currently being procured, as classes are scheduled to begin after the Easter vacations at the latest. Hauck says: "Native-language instruction makes sense, because first and foremost you have to see what you can do for the children who have experienced terrible things. Learning German is not a priority in those cases.”

 The heads of the primary and secondary schools in Rheinbach have already agreed to take in 50 and 100 children respectively. To facilitate integration, the schools will offer German language courses within the scope of their personnel resources. The young children are to attend daycare centers in the individual districts, "because there are numerous private offers to take in mothers with children," says city spokesman Norbert Sauren. Placement at secondary schools will be based on each student's level of education.

 Coordination with the district

 In principle, Alfter is prepared to accept as many children as possible in the three municipal elementary schools. Coordination talks are currently underway with the district's lower education authority. The situation at the municipal daycare centers is especially strained. Because of that, the administration says that discussions will be held with the district youth welfare office regarding current developments. Language support for elementary school students is still being coordinated between the administration and the responsible authorities and institutions.

 In Bornheim, the refugees are currently being registered in a database in order to determine the age distribution of the children and young people. For the care of young children, play meetings and play groups will probably be organized, because, according to spokesman Christoph Lüttgen, no new daycare places can be organized in the short term.

 International class in Merten

 In terms of pupils, the “Heinrich Böll” secondary school in Merten can take seven to eight students because an international preparatory class had already been set up there to accommodate unaccompanied minors from other countries.  That class had already been in progress for 14 days. ”We want to wait and see how the numbers develop," says principal Klaus Hannak.

 His colleague Christian Dubois from the Alexander-vom-Humboldt secondary school in Bornheim is sure that his high school will have the personnel and space to handle the admission of 15 additional students after the Easter vacations. He is counting on a volunteer from the school community to take over language support on a transitional basis.

Orig. text: Susanne Träupmann

Translation: ck

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