Many Ukrainian children learn in two schools | News

Parents who escaped the war in Ukraine often face the difficult choice: send their child to a remote Ukrainian school in the hope of returning home, or enroll in an Estonian school and become closer to the family bind Estonia.

Because the plans of Ukrainian families are often unclear, many children attend both schools, according to a recent survey by the Ministry of Education and Research.

“More than 30 percent of fourth graders, 45 percent of eighth graders and more than 60 percent of 11th grade students said they are still participating in Ukrainian distance learning,” said Liina Põld, the ministry’s undersecretary. to ERR.

This applies to the more than 8,500 Ukrainian schoolchildren currently attending Estonian schools. Three quarters of them study in Estonian and just under half in Tallinn. Of the Ukrainian children whose families have found permanent residence in Estonia, 45 do not go to school. Local governments and child protection authorities are investigating.

There are another approximately 1,600 Ukrainian children in Estonia who do not attend school.

“We think these are children in temporary housing, because we don’t have more detailed data. We know there are 1,603, which is 200 more than on April 3,” Põld said.

The children may also study distance learning in Ukrainian or graduate when school in Ukraine starts at age six. Nevertheless, Estonia will have to find school places for hundreds, if not more than a thousand students.

“Students who only study remotely and in Ukrainian have no options to continue their studies [in Estonia]. But Finland doesn’t need it. Finland does not extend compulsory education to refugee children. We have not created such an exception for them,” said Põld.

At the beginning of 2023, about half of the Freedom School students were still learning Ukrainian as tutors, which according to the program director Olga Selištševa represents a huge workload. But the number of students in two schools has fallen.

“There are still kids like that in every class, but no more than a few,” she said.

The study performance of Ukrainian students improves over time, according to the director. Others find a way to return home. About 50 Ukrainian students returned to Ukraine during this academic year. The Freedom School currently has 573 students, while the end of the school year is often the time when students and parents make relevant decisions.

“Summer is the time when many decide what to do next. Some know that they will stay with us next year, others are not sure, while some have also said that they will not return to the Freedom School,” Selištševa said.

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