Among the top challenges for Slovakia in welcoming people fleeing Ukraine is the education of refugee children. In order to deepen understanding of the actual education needs of new arrivals, the Comenius Institute - in cooperation with FOCUS agency and EduPage - conducted a representative survey among a sample of more than 6 000 teachers.
According to the survey, 37% of Ukrainian children of compulsory education age in Slovakia attend Slovak schools, and one third of Ukrainian children of pre-school age attend kindergarten in Slovakia. Children with temporary protection status are not obliged to complete compulsory education, therefore others at the age of compulsory education and university students either do not study or are continuing their schooling online, through the services provided by the Ukrainian Ministry of Education. Some are studying via both systems. There are currently 10 448 Ukrainian children registered in the Slovak education system.
The findings of the survey highlight many issues in the education of Ukrainian children in Slovakia. The teachers surveyed identified their biggest problems as being a lack of interest on the part of Ukrainian students in learning Slovak (30% of teachers), mental discomfort on the part of Ukrainian students (21%), trauma related to war experiences (18%), isolation of Ukrainian children from their peers (17%), 'overload' associated with parallel education in the Slovak and Ukrainian education systems (13%), and the absence of support to meet the basic needs of and ensure stability for the children (9%). More than half of primary school teachers who participated in the survey teach at least one Ukrainian student. Approximately 77% of teachers said that Ukrainian students make friends with non-Ukrainian classmates, and according to 69% of teachers, Ukrainian children are beginning to understand the Slovak language. Only 2% of teachers observed negative acceptance of Ukrainian students by their Slovakian class.
According to 85% of the teachers surveyed, the language barrier represents the biggest challenge in the education context. 67% said they would therefore welcome language support in education, and 58% would welcome support in adapting the content of education for non-Slovak students. Of the support tools prepared by the Ministry of Education, methodological guidelines (54%), links to external sources (31%) and webinars (24%) have so far been the most useful. 41% of teachers said do not have access to counselling in relation to the education of migrant (or refugee) children from the relevant institutions in Slovakia.
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