Education Center. The only place of its kind in Poland for Ukrainian children
In the PCPM Education Center, Ukrainian children have been learning in the Ukrainian school system for two years. The CE is a full-fledged educational institution that offers classes in mathematics, physics, history, and other school subjects. It is an important place on the map of Warsaw that directly helps both refugee children and supports the Polish education system.
“We are constantly getting questions about whether there is a place for a child in the Education Center. Our facility is also free of charge,” says Kinga Gromala, director of the PCPM Education Center. 220 children from Ukraine in 11 classes are learning in the Ukrainian system in Warsaw.”
The full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine caused a refugee crisis of a scale unseen in Poland since World War II. Most of the refugees were women, children, and the elderly. All of these people needed help and efficient adaptation in Poland when their country was engulfed in the flames of war.
The war in Ukraine broke out at a time when children were still learning remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many students and pupils in Ukraine who started their education in 2020 still had no chance to meet their classmates in person.
What is the Education Center?
“One of the ideas behind creating the Education Center was to create conditions for normal education for Ukrainian children. Every mother we spoke to said it was a huge problem,” says Kinga Gromala from PCPM.
Many children from Ukraine went to Polish schools. This was a huge effort for the education system, and PCPM also tried to help in this area by employing teacher assistants in schools.
“However, it is difficult to adapt to new conditions with a completely new language daily. Young children had it easier, but when you don’t know Polish, it is difficult to suddenly learn physics,” says Katia Shkurativska, whose daughter attends the 2nd grade at the PCPM Education Center.
New chance for children
“It was clear which children had never gone to school. Last year, it was a third grade that started their education during the pandemic. The children had social problems because they had never gone to school. It was harder for them to communicate with each other, but thanks to the work of the teachers and the school psychologist, they were able to integrate,” says Kinga Gromala.
Ukrainian children are receiving education in the Ukrainian school system at the PCPM Education Center free of charge. This allows them to take exams and advance to the next grades now, and in the future, it will allow them to return to schools in Ukraine if they so wish. The PCPM Education Center eliminates the difficulties associated with, for example, the language barrier, which Ukrainian children must overcome in Polish schools.
They also have an additional 3 hours of Polish language classes weekly to make it easier for them to find their way in the new country.
PCPM also cares about various integration activities with Polish students. Joint actions are carried out, such as cleaning the Vistula River, celebrations of the national holidays of Poland and Ukraine, and many others.
Students who have completed 11th grade will receive a Ukrainian high school diploma and will be able to continue their education in Ukraine, or after translating the diploma, they will be able to enter Polish universities. This path is shown by the story of Irina Pinczuk, who was admitted to the Warsaw University of Technology.
“I arrived in Poland on March 1st. On March 8th, I ended up in a Polish high school. Unfortunately, I didn’t know the language and it was hard for me. Thanks to this, I found the Education Center, and I was able to get in. I learned the language and I studied very hard so that I could continue my education,” Irina tells us.
Important place for teachers
The PCPM Foundation employs all teachers working at the PCPM Education Center. The recruitment process involved over 140 meetings with candidates, from which we selected 17 teachers. The recruitment was conducted among people who arrived in Poland after 24.02.2022 and live in Warsaw. Education at the PCPM Education Center takes place in Warsaw on a stationary basis. Therefore, there is no need to conduct online classes.
For many of them, this place allowed them to return to normal life and integrate with people with similar experiences. People working at the Education Center emphasize that they have become a new family for each other.
In the beginning, the Education Center was supposed to operate for a year, but thanks to the support of the Pfizer Foundation, this important place continues to operate.