Learning together

LEARNING TOGETHER
Promoting enrolment of Ukrainian children in Slovak schools

 

As the war in Ukraine continues, it is important to ensure that Ukrainian refugee children’s lives do not continue to be put on hold. Ensuring that Ukrainian children are in school and learning is critical – going to school is not only about learning, but also interactions and socialization with peers and adults, as well as putting in place a routine towards normalcy and developing a sense of belonging during uncertain times.

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that follow provide information on: (1) the Ukraine Ministry of Education’s guidance on the education of Ukrainian children in host countries; (2) the school enrolment process in Slovakia; (3) ensuring children’s wellbeing in schools.

UKRAINE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION’S GUIDANCE

The Ukraine Ministry of Education has a webpage for parents, with “FAQs” on the education of children abroad (in light of the war in Ukraine). Below are some questions, but please feel free to access the full page here.

  • Is it necessary for Ukrainian children to study abroad?

The obligation to study at a local school is determined by the law of the country in which the child resides. As a rule, countries hosting Ukrainian refugees require children to attend their local schools. Especially when the host state provides financial support to Ukrainians as refugees. Therefore, it is worth finding out about the need to attend school in the city where the child is staying.

At the same time, given the duration of the full-scale war, studying at a local school is both an opportunity to communicate with peers and socialize for a child in a new place. At the same time, studying at a Ukrainian school can be combined with studying abroad.

You can study at a Ukrainian school online in a distance, family (home) form, or externally. The key advantage of studying in a Ukrainian school is that the child remains in the “native” education system, where everything is clear to him, perhaps even with teachers who taught him before. When combining studying at a school abroad and in Ukraine, the child devotes most of the time to studying to a school abroad, while at the same time completing tasks in a Ukrainian school. With the beginning of the new school year, Ukrainian schools have adapted and many schools have introduced distance learning for their students abroad according to individual educational trajectories. This is a fairly comfortable format in which the child does not spend much time, but at the same time is more involved in the educational process than, for example, in an external form.

Also, in many cities in Europe, Canada, and the United States, there are Ukrainian schools where children from the Ukrainian community study. Ask if there is such a school in the city where your child lives. This option will help keep a balance between the child’s socialization in a new community and studying in the Ukrainian education system.

  • After moving abroad, my child is studying online. Is this enough?

In this case, it is worth finding out about the requirements of the country where your child is staying. Many countries that have sheltered Ukrainian children require them to attend a local school. Studying abroad provides a number of opportunities for a child. Among them are socialization in a new community and communication with peers, learning a new environment and language, psychological support for the child if necessary, and the opportunity to study in a different education system.

  • In September 2023, the entered into force, providing the option of an online “Ukrainian studies component” for Ukrainian children’s education abroad. What does this entail?

According to the order, Ukrainian children who left Ukraine due to the war have the right to study remotely in educational institutions designated separately by Ukrainian local self-government bodies and to study only subjects of the Ukrainian studies component, such as Ukrainian language, literature, history of Ukraine, etc. This is to help avoid the double burden of parallel studies in Ukrainian and host-country schools. At the same time, other forms of education for students who stay abroad continue to work in Ukraine: remote (with study of all subjects), family education and externship. Parents or legal representatives of the child have the right to choose the best option for their children.

In the order, it is assumed that students will be temporarily transferred to specially created online schools to study Ukrainian subjects and will be able to continue their studies in their schools after returning to Ukraine.

The Ministry recommended (in its Order No. 563 of May 15, 2023) that Ukrainian educational institutions should credit grades for subjects studied both in host-countries and Ukrainian schools, transferring them to a 12-point or two-point scale (“passed” / “not passed”). At the same time, students must pass an annual assessment in subjects that are not studied in foreign schools – Ukrainian language, literature, and history, as well as geography, civic education, and defense of Ukraine.

The schools with distance learning classes of the Ukrainian studies component are identified in different regions of Ukraine. There are up to five schools in each oblast of Ukraine and in Kyiv. Each group in these schools should have no more than 15 students. In case there is need in the organization of more classes, the Ministry will ask local self-governments and oblast administration to do it.

  • The typical programme for the special online component can be found
  • The Ministry’s webpage on the Ukrainian studies components can be found here.

The list of schools where distance learning of the Ukrainian studies component can be found here.

 

SCHOOL ENROLMENT PROCESS IN SLOVAKIA

  • What are the five key reasons why you should enroll your child in a Slovak school?

#1   Enrolment in a host country school is usually the most effective way to return children to learning after forced displacement.

#2   Face-to-face education is better than online education and other form of remote learning. Learning is much more effective with a skilled and trained teacher in a classroom setting.

#3   Attending school allows children to interact with others and socialize with the host community. This has benefits for mental health and wellbeing.

#4   In Slovakia, children can access a wide range of support services through schools, including mental health and psycho-social support services, language learning, pedagogical support and pre- and post-school time childcare. Children can learn new languages and life skills that will benefit them in the future, even if they return to Ukraine.

#5   Sending children to school enables parents to pursue employment or other essential activities.

Please also check out this leaflet “What to know about studying in both schools / Why is it important to visit school in hosting country?” and this webinar on “Double burden while studying at both schools”.

  • What are the key dates for school enrolment?

The school year starts in September 2024.

  • For upper secondary school enrolment, the registration period closes on 20 March 2024.
  • The entrance exams for upper secondary school take place on 29-30 April until 9-10 May 2024.
  • For kindergarten enrolment, the registration period is in May 2024.
  • For primary school enrolment, the registration period is 1 – 30 April 2024.

The enrolment process might take time, so it is important to initiate the registration process as soon as possible to ensure that your child can be enrolled in a timely manner.

  • Who can be enrolled in Slovak schools?

Under the Slovak system, education is compulsory between the age of 6 and 16, while kindergarten is compulsory from the age of 5 (for a child who has turned 5 years by 31 August).

Slovak schools welcome all Ukrainian refugee children in that age group, and with the status of temporary protection and asylum seeker.

Please be mindful of the school policies and rules that apply once your child is enrolled (for example, regarding school attendance, communication with the school, etc.).

  • Where should children be enrolled?

Ukrainian refugee children should be enrolled in the school situated in the school district in which they currently reside in.

If these schools are at full capacity and cannot accept any more students, the Regional School Administration Office (hereinafter referred to as “RÚŠS”) will enroll the child in a school in another school district.

More detailed information about enrollment process to kindergarten, primary schools and high schools are available here: this document (in Slovak) and this document (in Ukrainian).

  • Where can I find schools where children can enroll?

Please look for the school near the address of your residence in which you wish your child to be enrolled.

Illustrative information with an interactive map of schools and their availabilities (preschools/ kindergartens, primary and secondary) and contact information can be found here on this webpage.

  • What are the key steps for enrolling my child in Slovak schools?

Good news – you can enroll your child on your own with 2 easy steps:

  1. Go to the school near the address of your residence in which you wish your child to be enrolled.

 

  1. Submit:
    • Filled-in application form – please contact the NIVAM Regional Coordinators of your region for the Ukrainian version of the application form for primary school and kindergarten;
    • Photo ID of your child (ex. passport, ID card, etc.);
    • Document proving that your child has temporary protection status (or status of granted asylum).

You may be requested to also submit other documents and information, such as your child’s birth certificate or health insurance number.

The principal will then inform you of the next steps.

Please kindly note that before enrolling in school, the school principal might request that the child undergo an examination at the general health practitioner for children and adolescents, who will confirm the child’s medical fitness to attend school. Please note that a certificate of medical fitness is required for kindergartens. 

  • What should I do if I need support with the enrolment process?

The National Institute for Education and Youth (NIVAM) has a network of dedicated regional coordinators who will be happy to help you with the school enrolment process. The regional coordinator will identify the nearest available school, confirm the availability with the school principal, and then reach out to the families to facilitate the placement Please feel free to contact the coordinators of your region: https://nivam.sk/podpora-cudzincov/

You can also submit a request through this UNHCR online form (available in multiple languages, including Ukrainian and Slovak). Once the form is filled out, the information will be passed onto the Ministry of Education and NIVAM’s regional coordinators.

  • What about enrolment in Slovak universities?

If your child would like to enroll in a Slovak university, they can do so by approaching the university directly to inquire about the process and necessary documentation. You may find the list of public Slovak universities

ENSURING YOUR CHILD’S WELL-BEING IN SCHOOL

To ensure your child’s well-being while in school, it is important to work closely with the teachers, school principal and other school staff.

  • Why should I intervene if my child is being bullied at school?

Bullying can have harmful and long-lasting consequences for children. Besides the physical effects of bullying, children may experience emotional and mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, that can lead to substance abuse and decreased performance in school.

Your child has the right to a safe, nurturing school environment that respects their dignity. All children have the right to an education, and protection from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse. Bullying is no exception.

  • How can I help prevent bullying?

The first step to keeping your child safe is making sure that they know the issue.

  • Talk to your child about bullying.
  • Talk openly and frequently to your children.
  • Help your child be a positive role model.
  • Help build your child’s self-confidence.
  • Be a role model.

You can find more details on each of these tips here.

  • What should I do if my child is being bullied at school?

If you learn about your child’s experience of being bullied, please report it immediately to the class teacher (“triedny učiteľ”) who is in charge of parent communication and student wellbeing and discipline.

If the class teacher fails to address the issue, or is involved in the bullying incident, the incident should be reported to the school principal.

If the principal fails to act, the incident can be reported to the state school inspection: Podávanie sťažností – Štátna školská inšpekcia (ssi.sk). A complaint to the state inspection can also be made anonymously, but anonymous complaints are harder to investigate and it is up to the inspector general’s discretion whether to act upon anonymous complaints.

Please note that NIVAM’s network of Regional Coordinators can connect you to Ukrainian-speaking psychologists and interpreters who can help in such situations as well.

  • How can I work with my child’s school if my child is being bullied?

 

  • Find out if the school has a response mechanism or policy in place for bullying. Make sure there is a support system for both your child and the child who is bullying.
  • Allow the school to take action – allow the school to take responsibility for dealing with bullying in line with school rules and regulations.
  • Talk to school counsellors or other support staff – reach out to the school counsellor and support team to talk about your child’s experience and to jointly determine the best way forward for your child.
  • Work with the school to promote training on addressing bullying.

More information and tips on engaging schools to prevent and deal with bullying can be found here.

 

Relevant links for further information:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Information od prepared by UNICEF.