The state government is preparing for a large influx of school-age children from the Ukraine and is making efforts to integrate the refugees into the Hessian school system.

As Minister of Education Alexander Lorz (CDU) explains, 3,300 Ukrainian children and young people have arrived in Hessian schools so far, and the number is growing every day.

In the past week alone, 1,800 children have arrived.

Such dynamics did not exist even during the refugee crisis of 2015/2016.

The influx is particularly strong in rural areas: with 360 children, the Gießen/Vogelsbergkreis region is currently at the top.

So far, 92 children have arrived in the schools in Frankfurt.

Rainer Schulz

Editor in the Rhein-Main-Zeitung.

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However, the situation in schools is nowhere near as tense as it was at the peak of the refugee crisis in the past decade.

At that time, 28,000 children were cared for in so-called intensive classes at the top.

20,000 children are currently learning the German language in 1,170 intensive classes – a sixth of them come from the Ukraine.

"We want to offer them the best possible protection and support," says the minister, who also speaks of a permanent burden on the Hessian school system: "Our school system is constantly faced with the challenge of integrating these children."

relation to the home country

Unlike six or seven years ago, when it was primarily young people and adults from Afghanistan and other countries who fled to Germany, it is now primarily women with children of all ages who are seeking refuge from the war in their homeland in Germany.

School-age children who are registered in Hesse are assigned to one of the 15 reception and counseling centers run by the state school authorities.

They decide which school the children should attend.

Most children do not bring any knowledge of German with them.

First and foremost, they should therefore learn the German language in so-called intensive classes.

200 such classes have already been set up.

In order to be able to offer more German lessons, the ministry also wants to use part-time staff and approach retired teachers.

However, Ukraine also offers online lessons in the national language for school children from the fifth grade.

If the refugee children want to take part in these courses in secondary school, they are released from German lessons and also from compulsory schooling.

"We have to find a sensible balance," says Lorz.

Because it is important that the children do not lose the connection to their home country and their school system.

"People today are not fleeing from their own state, but from another one that attacked it with war," says Lorz.

This is also a difference to the past refugee crisis.

Hopefully they can be offered a return option in the foreseeable future.

Employ refugee teachers

In addition to the German lessons, the Ukrainian children can take part in physical education classes.

In addition, elementary school children are to be offered four afternoon lessons a week in the Ukrainian language – provided that the teachers are available for this.

So far, 170 teachers have reported, 100 of them with German language skills.

Many of them fled to Germany themselves.

Lorz promises that they will be used unbureaucratically in schools.

"We want to use this to build a bridge to teaching in our home country," explains the Minister of Education.

The classes are the responsibility of the state and are given by Ukrainian-speaking staff hired by the state.

The primary schools at which the new lessons can be offered depend on the local staffing options.

When the regular school year in Ukraine ends on May 31, this offer will also be extended to secondary schools.

As Lorz explains, older Ukrainian school children who are about to graduate will not have to take exams this year.

Ukraine issues degrees based on past performance.

The Consul General of Ukraine in Frankfurt, Vadym Kostiuk, thinks the country's schools are good: "They help us a lot so that our refugee compatriots and especially the children and young people here get a little bit of normality in everyday life."

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