Many teachers are still missing, but classes have started in the first “Ukrainian school” in Dresden. “The more teachers we have, the more subjects we can offer,” said Tobias Jäger, director of the 116th Dresden High School on Wednesday. German and English are currently being taught and a geography teacher is expected soon. There is already a chemistry teacher. For Matthias Rentzsch, the after-school manager, it’s about giving children a sense of security. We do not want to do only “education, education, education” from the beginning, says the educator: “Here the children can arrive”.
The term Ukrainian school does not fully describe it. There are currently two elementary school classes and two high school classes at the facility in the south of Dresden. They are affiliated with the 49th Elementary School and the 116th High School. There are 23 girls and boys in each class. Another class will be added shortly for elementary school students. On site, you have everything that makes a school functional – from caretakers to school meals to information technology, explains Katrin Düring, Head of the Dresden School Authority. Tobias Jäger describes the level of education in Ukraine as extremely high. The students are very ambitious and the parents are intent on getting good grades.
Julia Didenko, a German teacher from Kiev, can understand that there are reservations among her compatriots about sending their children to a German school. Perhaps this is due to the concern of “losing” children in Germany. Some would prefer to stay in their new home and take their previous school’s online classes in Ukraine. According to Jäger, however, this offer varies greatly depending on the war situation. In some places there is simply no school left, some children have arrived in Germany “with nothing”. You must first find a balance and deal with the different conditions.
Hagen Kettner, head of the Dresden State Schools Office, has other concerns. So far 6,772 applications have been submitted in Saxony for the admission of Ukrainian children to Free State schools, 4,108 of them have already been admitted. However, the same number of other students is expected by August 1st. “I’m the last to lose optimism, but then it won’t be just a challenge, it will be really exciting.” Today in Saxony there is already a shortage of teachers and lessons. In cities like Dresden there is also a lack of space, the classes are “crammed”: “There is no recipe. We have to develop the concepts ourselves.”
Other circumstances also make it difficult to act. According to Kettner, there are early trends that children who have already been registered don’t come after all because their families have moved. There are also differences in teacher training. Unlike in Germany, Eastern European countries are usually trained in only one subject and therefore are not available for multiple subjects. So far, 32 Ukrainian teachers and 14 assistants have been hired into its state education authority, which includes the city of Dresden and the districts of Saxon Switzerland-Osterzgebirge and Meissen, initially for a limited period until the end of the school year.
The war and its uncertain outcome, however, make precise planning difficult. Dresden Mayor of Education Jan Donhauser (CDU) – a teacher by profession – is already preparing for a possible debate on envy among stressed parents. The schooling of Ukrainian children will not be at the expense of others. “What we do here is something quite normal: helping others in need.” (Dpa)