Ukrainian children learn Czech even during holidays

Radek Plavecký

The children of Ukrainian refugees living in Mladá Boleslav will continue to learn Czech during the holidays, the young ones during games and songs in kindergarten, while the older ones will have special courses.

Mladá Boleslav is a town with a vast refugee community. There are around four hundred children alone who have enrolled in schools here.

“They have been going to school here for four months, and they also wanted holidays, so we would not be able to get them into a regular school, so we chose the form of project days,” said Iva Crookston coordinator of education and inclusion of Ukrainian children.

Now, around the national holidays, the schoolchildren have a day off. Still, the coordinator said it would be inappropriate for the children to remain completely unattended over the summer and drop out of regular attendance. They will therefore start classes as soon as next week.

“They will have thematic units, such as the history and architecture of Mladá Boleslav. They will walk around the city, learn information on the topic, and learn vocabulary to go with it. For example, they will go to the local mini-zoo and visit ruins. They will then do tests on each topic,” explained Iva Crookston.

Young children are also learning. One of the nurseries in Mladá Boleslav they have two dedicated classrooms with around forty little ones. The others are on other premises, and there are around a hundred young Ukrainian children in the kindergartens. Some have been here for months, others for a few weeks, but the vast majority have mastered a few Czech songs or nursery rhymes. “The Golden Gate is open…,” they sing and dance.

Their mothers’ employment contract is a prerequisite for admitting young children to kindergarten. Even the teachers in the kindergarten are women from Ukraine. “I came with my daughter when the war started,” Miroslava confirmed. Like her, teachers from Ukraine work both in the kindergarten and teaching older children.

“We managed to find people with pedagogical training among those who came here. They did intensive courses in Czech, and now they can do their work, they don’t have to join the factory on the line, they can teach again,” Iva Crookston pointed out.

Ukrainian pupils have already joined the schools where there was space during the spring and are learning Czech very well. The more skilful ones have already mastered dictation better than some local children. However, not all of them can fit into regular classrooms. Capacities are almost complete. That’s why the city is equipping the building of a former private school, and there will be an almost complete primary school for young Ukrainians. After the holidays, both Ukrainian pupils and teachers will start here.

“They have to meet the same conditions as other primary schools. They will be taught according to the Czech school system, with Czech textbooks. They will learn physics, history, everything in Czech,” said Iva Crookston.