Only a minority of children entered secondary school from Ukraine. It could cost the state millions.

There are about 25,000 secondary-age Ukrainian children in the Czech Republic who fled the warring states, but only a small percentage have started school. Either they don’t know the language, they lack information, or they want to return to Ukraine. If they do not go to school, it will become a burden to society rather than a benefit, and risk costing millions of crowns.

None of the 12 Ukrainian applicants who applied to Na Zatlance High School in Prague in April were accepted. They were studying other things at home and lacked the necessary knowledge for the Czech entrance exams. After arriving from a war-torn country, they didn’t speak Czech and were just beginning to adjust to their new surroundings. , says school principal Jitka Kmentová.

There are about 5,000 young Ukrainians who do not study in secondary schools in the Czech Republic or in remote areas of their own country. That’s one-fifth of the people who live here, according to research agency PAQ Research. That is, she is one of her 25,000 children between the ages of 15 and 17 who were registered with the Home Office at the beginning of the school year.

For Czechs, this means risk. Experts warn that if young Ukrainians do not go to school, the country will not live up to their potential. Children will not be able to learn the Czech language properly, will find it difficult to find a place in society, and will receive only minimal qualifications, regardless of their talents.

“Instead of becoming college students, they will work as workers, for example. There will be a generation of lost frustration that we cannot negotiate properly and strain the social system.” EDUin.

Karel Gargulak, one of the authors of the aforementioned study, has calculated that it costs an average person with only a basic education an average of 2.5 million crowns in their lifetime. Losses are reflected in public budget revenues or service costs.

Such people are also at risk of being unable to find work due to their low qualifications and being more likely to fall into poverty. “They are more likely to be targeted for pathological behaviors such as crime or gang involvement. This is a very vulnerable group,” he recalls Gargulák.

Year zero and success in mathematics

Over 1,000 Ukrainian children applied for high school graduation courses in the first round of the admissions process. Others may join an apprenticeship, submit an application in the second round, or go directly to higher grades, according to Marek Lehečka, a spokesperson for the Center for Finding Education Results. It’s not clear how many people started studying on September 1, as the Ministry of Education doesn’t have data.

However, partial data confirm that only a small proportion of them study in secondary school. In Prague, where most of the refugees have gone in the six months since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, municipal spokesperson Witthoffmann said he had fewer than 800 Ukrainian students. At the same time, the Ministry of Internal Affairs said that about 6,000 children from Ukraine aged 15 to 17 live in the capital.

The situation is similar in other regions. 141 young Ukrainians out of 1,131 were accepted to study at Liberetsky and 512 at his Středočeský. This is about one-seventh of the young people in the region. In the Pilsen region, a fifth of 1763 him attended secondary school.

For example, the Nazitrans High School in Prague decided to send children who failed the entrance exam to school. We have set Year Zero focused on intensive teaching of the Czech language, adaptation to the Czech environment and preparation for next year’s entrance exams. There are 16 students in the class and the capacity is already full.

It is the lack of knowledge of the language that puts young Ukrainians at a significant disadvantage. “Schools rejected some of them, especially in gymnasiums and lyceums, for exactly this reason,” says PAQ Research’s Gargulák. They often lacked information on where and how to register, and many expected a faster return to Ukraine. However, six months after the February invasion, fighting continues in the country.

EDUin’s Hřebecký says some directors are too strict with Ukrainian applicants. “If they prove their knowledge of the Czech language by dictating, it makes sense that foreigners who don’t know Czech won’t do it. Declare He also points out that better conditions for admission are created by primary schools. must accept.

Nevertheless, there are places where Ukrainians have succeeded. Five refugee students entered his first year at the Smichovski Secondary Technical School and Gymnasium in Prague. They performed above average on math tests and even passed interviews in Czech or English. “I understand everything. If they are doing well in mathematics, I am happy that they will study in our school,” says the principal, Radko Sáblík. .

In all schools, Ukrainian children had more time to prepare for tests in the entrance exams, were able to do mathematics in Ukrainian, and had interviews instead of tests in Czech. But not everyone managed it. “Halfway through,” says Julius Kolin, director of Prague’s Pisnica Gymnasium.

Somewhere along the line they ran into another problem. Brno Gymnasium Widenska said that in the spring she enrolled ten students in the higher grade, but only one of her will continue in the new semester. “They attended a different type of school. They assessed that starting a gymnasium was a step in the wrong direction. Some have returned, others have returned,” explains director David Andrle. .

Gargulák of PAQ Research and Hřebecký of EDUin agree that principals should take Ukrainian children to secondary school, even if they don’t yet speak Czech. “If a director has the ability, they can take anyone anywhere, anytime,” he says Gargulák. “This will allow us to increase the number of children in the class to his 34, which is allowed by statute,” he said.

Help for non-attendance

The Ministry of Education also wants to support the integration of the Czech environment. Adaptive groups created at the school will be supported by 200 million crowns. Among them, young Ukrainians are preparing to enroll in Czech schools and improve their Czech language. Not only junior high school students, but also young people who could not enter elementary school because the capacity was full.

according to economic newspaper Regions will also participate. Deputy Minister Pavla Katsova told HN, “They will be obliged to designate in their territory one or more secondary schools for intensive language training.”

Prague, which has the largest number of Ukrainian children, has set up adaptation groups and teaches Czech in some schools. Besides Na Zatrance High School, there are other high schools preparing for Year Zero.

It is important for Czechs to pay attention to them in order to avoid the risks associated with young refugees who are out of school, says Gargulak. “Many people have bombed their homes and have nowhere to go back to. The idea of ​​them being educated remotely is ridiculous,” he said, explaining why they can’t rely on online education from war-torn Ukraine. I will explain.

If young people actually study remotely, they will miss contact with their peers. “During covid, it has become clear that Czech children need to be part of the team. In addition, schools integrate foreigners into the cultural environment. No one integrates you better in , ”Hřebecký points out. Another thing that school attendance of young Ukrainians helps to achieve.


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