National education is preparing to welcome children from Ukraine

By Mattea Battaglia and Stephanie Wenger

Published March 16, 2022 at 9:13 p.m. – Updated March 17, 2022 at 10:20 a.m

Smiles, looks, words supported by gestures or illustrations… Teachers know very well that welcoming a student who does not speak French – an “allophone” – in their class takes a lot of time, at least in the first ones days of instruction ” nonverbal communication “.

To get the attention of Yurii, 15, who will be on the 12th grade this Wednesday, March 16the District of Paris, Cédric Maffre, the reference teacher of the unit for newly arrived allophone students (a UPE2A, according to the current acronym), offers to a “Detour” through another lever: music.

He had planned to have his class hear the singer Clara Luciani; First, it’s rap in Russian that resounds in the room on the third floor of the school, at the initiative of Yurii himself, who turned up the volume on his smartphone with a smile.

Reinforced French lessons

With Yurii's phone, he can translate from Ukrainian to French.  In Paris on March 16, 2022.

Two weeks ago, the Ukrainian teenager attended school in Kyiv, in “ninth class”; the equivalent of a level spanning the third and second. Here he is now integrated with the dozen students – that is, Ukrainians, but also Bangladeshis, Algerians, Nigerians or even Chinese – for whom this system counts on an increased French class of 18 hours per week before sending the students to a regular class”, explains Maffre. “Everyone does it at their own pace, gradually and only when they feel ready. »

While waiting, Yurii leaves her mark, surrounded by Kateryna, who also came from Ukraine, but in the fall, and Laura, who came from Moldova. Tongues loosen between the three Russian-speaking teenagers. While most of the class works on an excerpt The Princess of Cleves The trio comments on some video clips. “Try to speak in French”, their teacher repeats it to them. This is the rule in UPE2A. But she suffers “some exceptions” he sets aside for that first day Yurii spends in high school.

The cohort was “reasonable,” said Jean-Michel Blanquer

Almost 790 children and young people who fled the war in Ukraine have already been educated on French soil, according to the latest figures released by the education ministry. The cohort is ” appropriate “, said Jean-Michel Blanquer during a trip on March 15 to a facility at the Créteil Academy. With a total of 12.4 million students (including 68,000 allophone students, all races combined), this number doesn’t mean much. But he will “grow in the next few days”, the minister warned. While the government is still counting on the possible arrival of 50,000 to 100,000 refugees, mainly women and children, the school actors are getting ready.

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