Schools and kindergartens in Berlin need to be prepared to welcome many more Ukrainian children than they have been up to now. “We assume that significantly more children and young people will register after the Easter holidays,” Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) said Tuesday after the Senate meeting. Firstly, not all refugees registered in Berlin are taken care of, secondly, new ones are added every day, explained Giffey and spoke of a “great challenge”.
In the week before the Easter holidays alone, 600 children who fled Ukraine were enrolled in school. A “sudden increase”, Giffey reported and took it as an indication “that the next phase is coming”. After the first weeks of the war, the main objective was the reception of refugees, now their integration is emerging. “This will change a lot in the next few days, we assume that,” Giffey said.
At the beginning of the Easter holidays, just under 2,000 children had been integrated into the activities of the approximately 800 schools in Berlin; 892 of them in reception classes, 1024 in ordinary schools. Giffey added that the number of refugee children cared for in the city’s daycare centers is currently around 4,000. There, as in schools, the following applies: “We can do it by getting closer”. Giffey thanked the employees for their solidarity.
Education Senator Astrid-Sabine Busse (SPD) agreed in an interview with the Tagesspiegel. “We still have room for improvement, especially thanks to solidarity in schools and kindergartens,” she explained Busse. She underlined the great availability of all those involved, but she also explained: “I am convinced that more will come”.
According to a spokesperson, the Senate Department of Education has asked general and vocational public schools and school authorities to name their possible room capacities. Places for schools are still available. In addition, a first call for tenders has been launched for the reception of teachers, further measures will follow.
300 refugee teachers want to help
Nearly 30 Ukrainian teachers have already been hired to work in the welcome classes, the spokesperson explained. According to Giffey, about 300 Ukrainian educators have signed up for teaching so far. Engaging them as quickly as possible should help overcome predictable bottlenecks.
Markus Hanisch, spokesman for the GEW education union, asked for the recognition process to be speeded up and for additional competitions for teaching staff. Not only in schools, but also in responsible authorities, staff need to be strengthened, Hanisch asked. This is the only way to ensure that everyone who now wants to help in schools and daycare centers can access it in a timely manner.
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Planning is made more difficult by the fact that even seven weeks after Russia attacked Ukraine, no one knows exactly how many refugees there are currently in Berlin. So far, 44,000 people have applied for a residence permit and 35,000 people have sought help from social welfare offices, Giffey said Tuesday.
The head of the government assumes that there will be many more refugees in Berlin. Currently around 3,000 people are added every day and a few hundred are usually distributed by bus every day. The social administration situation report also explains that the exact number of refugees staying in Berlin cannot be given “reliably”.
The accommodation at the fairground becomes a reserve
1167 places were available on Tuesday to welcome arriving people. The 900 seats previously reserved in the exhibition area are no longer used. They are held as a reserve.
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Even without exact numbers, it seems clear: Berlin welcomed far more people than expected according to the Königstein key, the distribution principle of the 16 federal states. Giffey explained that not everyone could stay, nationwide distribution was needed.
Exceptions are people with family ties, women who are pregnant before childbirth or if there is an employment or training contract. Physically and mentally handicapped people should also be able to stay in Berlin beyond the specified quota of five percent of nationally registered refugees.