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Place of Ukrainian children in schools

Every child should go to school because it is the most natural social environment for them, necessary for their healthy development.

This is repeatedly confirmed during the most serious consequences, such as pandemics or war. Why, then, do most Ukrainian children in Slovakia not prefer physical education in a Slovak school to online kindergarten education in Ukraine?

According to the Ukrainian side

This school year has started online in more than half of the 13,000 Ukrainian schools (only 3,539 schools have started full-time). Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said during a visit to a school in Kyiv that "a school is a second home for children," and children are our source of energy that leads Ukraine to victory. The safety and well-being of children have a direct impact on the fighting ability of Ukrainian soldiers.

The position of the Slovak side is

Slovakia does not have compulsory schooling for expatriates because of fear that it simply will not be able to run it. After all, compulsory schooling would have to be controlled and financed. Currently, that obligation lies only on the schools. Under the Education Act, principals are required to enroll a child if a parent officially requests it. Therefore, Slovakia has left it up to the parents, usually the mother, to decide whether or not their children will attend a Slovak school.

As a result, only about 30 percent of Ukrainian children are enrolled in Slovak schools. This low percentage is mainly due to difficulties in the decision-making process (mother, child, native state opinion, etc.), lack of school places (Bratislava region), and finally the dysfunctional process of integrating children into schools.

The way our neighbors are doing it

The Czech Republic and other EU countries have compulsory or temporarily compulsory schooling. So the Czech Republic boasts that up to 90 percent of the children who have left the country have been sent to elementary school, 65 percent to kindergartens and 46 percent to secondary schools. Of course, they have problems for the future, such as improving the curriculum, the way foreigners are placed in classrooms, or the lack of kindergarten spots. But they have a huge head start over us.

In Slovakia, we are still stuck on the issue of the need for compulsory schooling. We don't look around us for positive examples, we don't assess results and consequences. We are overcome by fear of what Ukraine will think of us and whether our teachers can cope with a threefold increase in the number of children.

Besides, elections are just around the corner, and who should be dealing with this issue? Then, unfortunately, data like these emerge that suggest that our results vary from not bad to disastrous.

The solution is ready

In our NGO ( we have been working on the integration and inclusion of foreign children for years, and we have a solution for how to do it. It was created at a time when no one knew that tens of thousands of foreign children would come to Slovakia. That was in 2018, and that's when the name of the project (SLOKIA without VA, since foreign children don't know that word yet) was created - a set of textbooks and procedures that can help integrate and include foreign children in the educational process. We have also prepared teacher trainings to accompany the textbooks. This just needs to be grabbed and done. We need to start actively recruiting Ukrainian children into schools now, offering them language support, methodologically challenging enrollment procedures, and above all, sending a signal to the whole community that Ukrainian children have a place in school, too, and that we want them there. Please, let's not waste another year...

Current articles by Alona Kurotova are also available at