German lessons in welcome classes or learning according to the Ukrainian curriculum?

Discussion on refugee education

German lessons in welcome classes or learning according to the Ukrainian curriculum?


Thursday 17.03.22 | 06:11 | to Kirsten Buchmann

picture: DBA / Beata Zorzel

For schoolchildren from Ukraine, the first welcome classes in Berlin schools will start on Monday. There they will mainly learn German. However, there are also criticisms of this approach. Written by Kirsten Buchmann

Ukrainian Consul General Irina Tibinka found clear words in her speech at the Conference of Education Ministers last week. And she demanded: “Ukrainian children who are staying here now should continue their education according to the Ukrainian system and its curricula.” This alone will enable them to “return to Ukraine without barriers and without pain.”

She combined her request with criticism of the German curriculum. There, Ukrainian history is almost completely absent, and Russia remains dominant.

The Consul General emphasized that everyone hoped that the horrors of the war would not last for long. For children who have fled to Germany, it is not about fully integrating into German society. National identity must be preserved. It is important that children can continue to learn their language, history and culture.

She therefore called for students not to be taught in “integration classes” but in “smaller educational units” for a period of one to three years. It points to successful experiences in Germany with international and bilingual schools. She sees this as an argument that “temporary education under the Ukrainian education system can function for a limited period of time”.

First new welcome classes from Monday

However, the first new welcome classes have already been set up in Berlin. According to the Department of Education, the first should start on Monday. Children and young people who fled to Berlin from Ukraine will be guaranteed a place at school as soon as possible.

According to the Department of Education, they have already been incorporated into regular classes at many schools. According to a spokesperson for the Education Department, the goal is “for Ukrainian students to learn German as quickly as possible in order to find their way here in everyday life – and also to be able to integrate in the future given the uncertain situation in Ukraine”.

At the same time, the Department of Education is working to include mother tongue lessons in the offers and monitor the certificates of leaving the upcoming Ukrainian school. Many people of Ukrainian origin have already applied to work as teachers here.

No extra island

The spokesman for the educational policy of the SPD-parliamentary group in the lower house of Berlin, Marcel Hopp, believes that the correct way is to teach Ukrainian pupils in welcome classes in Berlin schools, “and not, as the Consul General Tibinka suggested, according to Ukrainian Education and the requirements of the School Act” . Because the children and young people who come here have the right to learn here.

“But in terms of compulsory education as well, no additional island will be built here.” It is about ensuring the best education possible, also against the background that the war may last longer.

Hope says he understands the consul general’s hope that the children’s stay in Germany will be temporary. He also hopes that peace will be achieved quickly for Ukraine’s benefit. “But in managing our crisis, we’re assuming this isn’t a temporary residence. We have a working hypothesis that those who are here will stay here for the time being.”

Desire for rooms and staff

The education policy spokeswoman for the CDU opposition parliamentary group, Katharina Günther-Wönch, can agree with the Consul General that getting children into the regular school system as quickly as possible is not the preferred method. “But these children are traumatized and uprooted and initially need a protected space.” The best thing is an ‘Arrival State’ with native speakers and familiar people around them.

At the same time, she has witnessed several times that refugees demand digital devices for them. Because their children will receive full digital lessons from Ukraine, at least for grades five through eleven. You can check out how to do it and implement it using digital rooms and devices. Günther-Wünsch sees this as an option for this school year.

But other wishes are also coming to CDU deputies: Some privately housed people want their children to go to school with their host families. So she asks for rooms, staff, therapists, and psychologists at the school as well as money to fund lessons for her.

Broadcast: Evening Show, March 17, 2022, 7:30 p.m.

Contribution by Kirsten Buchmann


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