On March 14, 16 Ukrainian children “back to school” in Saint-Pierre de Chandieu in the Rhone. Since then the numbers have grown and the children have been divided into different structures based on their age. Integrated into classes for some subjects, learning is still difficult, but their reintegration into the school curriculum seems well-oiled.
On 3 March, 52 Ukrainian refugees disembarked from a humanitarian bus in Saint-Pierre de Chandieu. Among them were about 15 children aged 4 to 17, who had been taken out of school due to the war, and who had to be taken back to school. A real challenge for this small town and its community. But by dint of organization and solidarity, the challenge seems to be in the process of being accepted.
Eleven days after their arrival on the national territory, these young Ukrainians had done their first “French school year”, gathered, all ages together, in kindergarten Louise Michel. They were then received by a pedagogical consultant, in the presence of a Ukrainian interpreter, to welcome them all and measure their age, level and needs, in order to better distribute them later.
Two months later, the number of Ukrainian children and adolescents returning to school increased as more refugees arrived. Sixteen at the time of the “back to school” of March 14, are currently 31, well distributed in the various schools of the municipality and its surroundings: 6 in elementary school, 7 in boarding school, and 18 in various high schools.
The youngest, in the primary classes, mainly learn French, and for this they have 2 days a week with a teacher specialized in UPE2A (Pedagogical Unit for Students Allophone Newcomer Students), Jessy Correia, who communicates more often with children in mime and image and use “Google Translate” as a last resort.
“We work mainly with games, manipulations, workshops, it is much easier for children to deal with a foreign language“explains the young teacher,”we mainly focus on the basic vocabulary that will be needed in the classroom, and also on the vocabulary of need, to allow them to express it more easily“.
Uprooted, separated from their brothers and fathers, dragged around Europe by bus and immersed in a different culture, with a different language and alphabet, these children would have every reason in the world to abandon their studies. But on the contrary, “they are highly motivated and very academic“Jessy points out, amazed by their learning ability”,they memorize at an incredible speed, I can’t say more“.
For older children, university or high school age, it is a little different: they have already been partially integrated into the French classes. That is to say that for a number of courses, such as mathematics, English, history-geography or even sports and music, they are divided into different classes, and they follow the courses like their French classmates.
“We immerse them as much as possible so that they hear French speaking and gradually integrate“justifies Laurence Yaghlian, a professor of history and geography who also volunteered to give French lessons to her Ukrainian university students.”They try to follow them but it’s not always easy “. she tempera: “MeI often put myself in their shoes, I wonder what I would do in Ukraine with a Cyrillic alphabet, among Ukrainians …“.
Ukrainian students therefore continue to take fairly intensive French lessons, for which their knowledge of English is more than advantageous, if only for mastering the alphabet. During the general lessons they have “tutors”, volunteer French students who try to help them. On the other hand, teachers who can, do not hesitate to translate their lessons into English to allow Ukrainians to understand certain things.
The re-education of Ukrainian children and adolescents in Saint-Pierre en Chandieu has therefore started well and truly, and thanks to organization and solidarity it is improving. But to follow a quality education, especially for older children, the situation is still far from ideal. “Some take Ukrainian courses on the Internet at the same time, while others… don’t have much“Laurence smiles, full of tenderness and emotion,”the priority is to teach them French“.