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Children of foreigners in Slovakia need our help

According to official statistics from the Ministry of Education, about 2,072 children with other citizenship study in Slovakia, which is about half a percent of all school-age children. You can also tell yourself that it's such a small percentage that we don't even have to worry about it. At the end of the day, we're still trying to find ways to effectively educate and integrate children from isolated communities, which are many more. Let me try to explain the essential difference. These children are scattered in schools in different cities and districts and, unlike minorities, there is no holistic concept of teaching the Slovak language to children of foreigners. These children are interested in integration and want to share with their peers the joys and sorrows they experience in a new and often very different environment. It is necessary to think how to solve this problem in such a way that the tandem of children of foreigners and children of the majority of the population is useful for both parties. Slovak children will get experience of another culture, understanding of foreigners, new experience and friendship, and foreigners will get a sense of home.

According to statistics from the Slovak Ministry of the Interior, most families come from Ukraine, Serbia, Russia and Vietnam, and more than 50% of foreign children attend schools in Bratislava and Trnava. The statistics do not include children who have Slovak citizenship, because one of the parents is a citizen of the Slovak Republic. This applies to my children or children with Slovak citizenship who have lived abroad for a long time, where they studied in another language in foreign schools and returned to Slovakia. All these children are united by the problem of integration into the educational process due to the unpreparedness of schools, which are given the difficult role of mentors, and, on the other hand, due to the helplessness of parents who do not know how to respond to the crying of their children.

Families from abroad come here for a better life, mostly for their children, so they try to help and support them as much as possible. Very often these are families from close linguistic environment, but there are also non-Slavic children who are able, like a sponge, to perceive foreign languages, which creates conditions for good cooperation.

Unfortunately, they face a number of obstacles. The problem is the unwillingness of schools to integrate such children, the lack of standard procedures for school principals to manage the entire process, the lack of textbooks and other teaching aids for foreign children to cope with the main problem, which is the language barrier. In my work, I also encounter such a procedure for integrating a child, when a school transfers a child to a class, very often to a lower class, and allows a child without knowledge of the basics of the Slovak language to attend classes with other children, just like that, without preparation, let him study. The child does not get grades and just listens in the corner, where he often hides. Parents agree with the teacher about Slovak language lessons for their child once or twice a week, which they usually pay from their own funds, and often do not know that according to the law, basic and additional state language courses are organized for children of foreigners in order to eliminate the language barrier to which the foreigner's child is entitled.

The child who was transferred to the lower class is upset, has no friends, does not know how to communicate and often does not understand what he has done so badly that he is an outcast in the group. She begins to rebel. Parents who not only live in Slovakia, but also work and do business, in addition to solving their own problems, how to provide the family in the new conditions, also have to solve problems, how to manage the whole situation, so that the family can survive. This situation negatively affects not only family relations, but also the work of parents, which is a loss not only for the family, but also for society. The school also loses, because the children of foreigners classified in this way do not withstand the general assessment of students, and all efforts are perceived as too complex and not always successful. And the tandem of children of foreigners and children of the majority of society does not reveal its potential.

What do we need? Of course, a system solution that will be the only thing that will turn the tide and make smart children not outcasts, but those who move the class forward. I see this as a necessity that needs to be addressed for the common good.

What I mean by a system solution:

  1. a clear methodological instruction for the school principal describing the established procedures for the process of including a foreign student in the education system;
  2. information booklet in English (or Ukrainian, Russian, Serbian and Vietnamese) about the school education system in Slovakia for parents of foreign children;
  3. creating a Slovak textbook for children of foreigners for A1 levels - V2 and its public distribution, the lack of a textbook is a serious problem for teachers, parents and children;
  4. creation of portals (as in the neighboring Czech Republic) aimed at developing education for children with another mother language;

All four points are now missing, and this is where I see the problem.

Slovaks are a very hospitable people, and they love children very much. Family and children are one of the priority values that they profess. I see this in the eyes of mothers who devote themselves entirely to children during maternity leave, who try to engage in the leisure of their children along with all other duties, and parents who push wheelchairs, ski and try to spend as much time as possible with their families along with the material support of their families. Therefore, I hope that the problem of the lack of integration mechanisms for children of foreigners will arouse greater public interest. Doctor, my last article, clearly did not cause it. So what to do with children?

Current articles by Alona Kurotova are also available at