After February 24, the world is on the brink of the largest humanitarian catastrophe since World War II. As a result of russia’s attack on Ukraine, more than 11 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes. In almost two months, more than 4.5 million went abroad. Mostly women, the elderly and children.
Despite humanitarian aid and unprecedented support of Ukraine by democratic world, Europe is unprepared for the long-term challenges. In particular, concerning education. The new charity foundation Future for Ukraine has decided to focus its work on the development of Ukrainian centres for adaptation and psychological support for children of temporarily displaced persons from Ukraine.
Educational problems for children of Ukrainian immigrants in Europe
The first difficulties faced by Ukrainian parents abroad are the continuation of education and adaptation of children to new conditions.
Poland, which is neighboring Ukraine, has received the largest number of Ukrainian immigrants. Warsaw’s educational infrastructure has been burdened with hundreds of thousands of children who need to be adapted to another curriculum in a language they do not know. So far, due to the lack of places in educational institutions, the capital managed to accommodate 15,000 students.
This is not a problem for a short period. According to a recent poll by the Razumkov Center, 79% of Ukrainians plan to return home. But it is unknown at this time when the war will end and they will be able to go home. Tactical and strategic steps are needed to help Ukrainians normalize their daily lives and decide the following for themselves and their children.
Ukrainian students need to simplify their adaptation to new environment, and the first obstacle is unfamiliar language. Studying it requires minimizing stress and conditions for concentration and mood.
Integration into the children’s community
Most displaced Ukrainian schoolchildren study online according to a Ukrainian program developed by the state during the coronavirus pandemic. As practice shows, online learning can not completely replace live communication. Children need socialization in children’s communities.
The curriculum difference
The system of assessment and discipline, including language, history, literature, and culture, which is completely different from the Ukrainian one, raises doubts among Ukrainian parents about the expediency of studying them in the short term. The main strategic dilemma for a host country is the adaptation of Ukrainian students to a new curriculum or the creation of Ukrainian classes based on its educational infrastructure.
Time for parents
Preschoolers spend time with their mothers almost around the clock. This creates difficulties for parents who need to deal with bureaucratic issues related to relocation, and seek school or temporary employment.
Ukrainian centres as a tactical solution
While the educational strategy for the children of temporarily displaced persons from Ukraine is decided at the national and international levels, tactical steps can be taken by the Ukrainian public and charitable organizations.
That is why the Charity Foundation Future for Ukraine decided to create a network of Ukrainian centres for the adaptation and psychological support of children of migrants. This version of complementary learning will help solve several problems.
Thanks to the renewed sense of security, children will gradually be able to integrate into the new environment. In such centres, they will be able to relax from the language barrier and communicate with peers with similar experiences.
As for the disciplines that should be studied in such centres – language courses, history, culture and social order of the country in which they are located. Gaining soft skills through workshops and games will help children communicate more successfully with people from other culture.
A key point to be present in adaptation centres. It is important to conduct therapy in the child’s native language, so the host country does not have the opportunity to provide Ukrainian-speaking psychologists in their schools. Every Ukrainian child is currently experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. It doesn’t matter if it saw the war with its own eyes. The very fact of the sudden disappearance of the familiar environment, farewell to dad or other relatives, friends is an incredible stress for the child’s psyche.
‘In development centres, children can receive psychological support, adapt and continue their development, and their mothers – to get time for their affairs and just relax from the burden of daily routine. In such centres, children will meet the same children who had to start a new life, share problems, and finally breathe a sigh of relief from the language barrier. In the meantime, their parents can do urgent questions, look for work or school to continue living a normal life in Poland as long as it takes to return home,’ said Olena Sotnyk, vice president of Future for Ukraine.
Adam Mulligan did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.
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