Flanders wants to make Ukrainian education possible for refugees

An action plan for the education of Ukrainian refugees in Flanders has been drawn up, Flemish Minister of Education Ben Weyts (N-VA) announced on Thursday. Schools will get additional resources and possibilities to accommodate pupils. Besides reception in regular classes or in so-called OKAN classes (reception education for foreign-language newcomers), the intention is also to provide Ukrainian education in collective reception facilities, supported by an online platform of the Ukrainian Ministry of Education.

In addition to reception and housing, education for Ukrainian refugees is a major challenge for the government of Flanders. Flemish Minister of Education Ben Weyts, together with members of parliament Koen Daniëls (N-VA), Loes Vandromme (CD&V), Jean-Jacques De Gucht (Open Vld) and the broad educational field, have now agreed to submit an emergency decree that should help schools in accommodating Ukrainian pupils.

One of the agreements is that schools will receive additional resources for the extra pupils they receive. If they wish, schools can also go into overcapacity. Furthermore, schools will receive additional resources to expand their capacity. The government of Flanders will cover all the costs for temporary modular units, for instance. Schools will also be provided with pedagogical tools and the Centres for Student Counselling (CLBs) will receive extra support for trauma counselling.

Noteworthy is that in addition to reception in regular and OKAN classes, there is also the option to provide Ukrainian education in collective reception facilities. In such facilities, separate classes could be set up where pupils can receive Ukrainian education under the guidance of Ukrainian teachers, for example. These classes would be supported by a digital learning platform set up by the Ukrainian Ministry of Education. Through that platform, Ukrainian children around the world can receive Ukrainian education.

Educating pupils with a migrant background in their native language is usually far from a given in Flanders. Although opposition parties have pointed to the positive impact of devoting attention to pupils' native languages in the past, the emphasis in Flemish education policy has usually been on learning Dutch as quickly as possible.


© BELGA PHOTO - Children play with toys at the opening of a center for the registration of Ukrainian refugees in Brussels, Belgium

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