Ukrainian children go to school in Saxony

KShortly after class started at half past nine, the classroom door opened and Andrei entered. The ten-year-old boy broke into the middle row and took the second seat. His 18 teammates are already there, ages 10 to 16, sitting with their backs straight and arms parallel to the table in front of them. A large Ukrainian flag is drawn in chalk on the board, a triangle and a ruler and three large maps of Europe, Germany and Saxony hang on the wall.

Stephen Lock

Reporter for Saxony and Thuringia based in Dresden.

This Monday is the first day of class for all of them here, and teacher Olina Fedorets wants to know where the kids come from. Hands fly by at once, one after another, the names of other cities such as Dnipro, Kiev, Kharkiv, Limburg and Chetumer echo across the room. The children had been in Dresden for three or four weeks at most. Three of them stayed with relatives with their mothers, and two with acquaintances. Others talk about long train and bus journeys and that they have already moved into an apartment or room in a guesthouse.

“We’re in Germany,” Fedorets says. You ask “What German-speaking countries do you know?” Immediately hands again. Austria and Switzerland, we call children in Russian. This is the language of instruction, they agreed with their parents a few days ago when they got to know each other.


“Capital: Berlin”: Ukrainian teacher Olina Fedorets teaches refugee children the German language.
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Pictured: Stephen Lock

“Russian is the everyday language in Ukraine,” Fedorets says. “It’s easier for everyone.” The children also speak Russian with each other. Fedorets is a German teacher and comes from Ukrainian Zaporischschja. She is 48 years old, married a German man and came to Dresden three years ago.

So far she has taught German as a second language to people from a wide variety of countries, but when she noticed how many of her compatriots had arrived as refugees in the past few weeks, she applied for a job at a Saxon school service and she was hired straight away. She is now a teacher at High School 55 in southern Dresden, a great neoclassical building near the university. Currently, the country has created 200 jobs for Ukrainian teachers so that they can quickly provide lessons and a kind of everyday life again to the many homeless children.

The day of the attack broke out

According to the Ministry of Education in Saxony, 89 Ukrainians had already been recruited by April 11, both teachers who had fled and Ukrainians who had been living in Germany for a long time. Their qualifications have never been recognized, which is always a problem in other professions as well. “We have to be faster in recognizing qualifications,” says Saxony’s Minister of Education, Christian Bewers (CDU).

Approximately 2,800 students who have fled Ukraine are already attending school in Saxony, most of which are public schools. Many Ukrainian school children learn from home using the materials that their Ukrainian schools provide online. So far, 25,000 war refugees have arrived in Saxony, more than 80 percent of whom are women and children. There is mostly space in rural schools, but many like to stay in the cities.

First steps: placing DIY educational materials on a table for schoolchildren from Ukraine in a welcome class at Trudering Gymnasium


First steps: placing DIY educational materials on a table for schoolchildren from Ukraine in a welcome class at Trudering Gymnasium
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Photo: dpa

The children in Fedorets’ class did not see the war themselves. Al-Moallem reported that “many drove west and then abroad on the day of the attack.” You don’t want to talk about war in class, but the kids know about it. When asked what they want to be when they grow up, five of the boys sat in front of her to “join the army”.

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