Ukrainian school preparing for academic year, still short on teachers

Ukrainian children's paintings of their homeland, displayed at the Uue Kunsti Muuseum in Pärnu until August 28.
Ukrainian children's paintings of their homeland, displayed at the Uue Kunsti Muuseum in Pärnu until August 28. Source: Press photo

More than 500 students are set to attend the Freedom School meant for Ukrainian war refugees this schoolyear, while the institution is still short teachers who are difficult to find in summer.

The Freedom School that will open its doors in Tallinn this September has places for 800 students. A little over 500 students have enrolled so far. The school has a staff of 30, while head of studies Olga Selištševa said that at least 60 people are needed. Efforts to recruit them are in full swing, while it can be hard to find people in summer.

"We are practically working round the clock. It is a major challenge to put together a school in three months. The team and teachers are our most pressing issue. It is quite a challenge to find teachers in the middle of summer," Selištševa told ERR.

The school will open five sets of 7-12th grades. There will be around 20 students per class.

Students will be learning using the language immersion method, meaning that a part of subjects will be taught in Estonian and a part in Ukrainian. Selištševa said that students will also be taught by people who have come to Estonia from Ukraine.

"Most of them were involved in the field of education back in Ukraine. They were teachers or other specialists in Ukraine and want to remain in their chosen field, work with Ukrainian youths and help them here," the head of studies said.

Liina Põld, undersecretary for general education and youth policy for the Ministry of Education and Research, said that most Ukrainian kids and youths live in Harju County and that the government decided to open the Freedom School once it became clear Tallinn will be hard-pressed to ensure every Ukrainian child a school place.

"Tallinn will be able to cover the educational needs of 1-6th grade students by placing them in existing schools or creating new classes. Grades 7-9th, the high school level and vocational education will be up to the government to solve," Põld said.

She said the ministry sees no reason to open a similar school in another part of Estonia at this time.

"We remain in constant contact with local governments after briefings and meetings with various municipalities. These options will be discussed based on local government's ability to offer school places, while there are no such plans right now," Põld said.

Estonia is home to around 15,000 Ukrainian children up to 11 years of age.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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