The school, a new refuge for Ukrainian children

In the past month, about sixty children have attended schools, colleges and high schools in the department. They are from Dnipro, Zaporizhia, Hostomel. Cities synonymous with battlefields. Their schools have become fields of ruins or reception centers for internally displaced persons. Such is the fate of the high school of Ouliana Yatsenko, who has been studying since March 11th as a second at the Sainte-Marthe-Chavagnes high school in Angoulême. She was already learning French in Zaporizhia. “We understand, but we speak little”She recognizes the high school student. She is doing well compared to most of her compatriots. Varia and Miroslava barely grasp the lessons. The two sisters study in Jarnac, in the 5the and CM2. The eldest relies on a Georgian comrade for the Russian version. Miroslava manages as best she can. “In English a lot with gestures”, describes the youngest. At La Couronne, Valery and his colleague Any play with the translator on their smartphone to clarify complex terms.

Become fluent in French as soon as possible

It doesn’t matter if the students don’t capture everything. “At least they are bathed in the French language”, supports David Mames, head of the College of La Couronne. “ We get to work quickly, but on a child’s scale.” says Isabelle Bryon, coordinator in the Charente of Casnav, the rectorate service in charge of allophone (non-French speaking) students. We’re not talking about exams or even grades here. The goal of the refugees is to be autonomous as soon as possible. “Understanding Others”, confirms Ouliana at the end of a conversational French course. All adds: “It’s easier to make friends”.

The Sainte Marthe high school mixes Ukrainian mothers and children with French students.

The Sainte Marthe high school mixes Ukrainian mothers and children with French students.


The school also offers a cocoon of peace to these children traumatized by war. In processing, “We think less about what’s going on”, loose Valery. Varia and Miroslava were denied school for five weeks. So the beginning of the school year took place in a “great excitement”, smiles the CM2. The same goes for Ouliana in Sainte-Marthe. “Sometimes I have the impression that for them it is a journey, two parallel realities”He believes Olena, his mother, who also fled with Maria, a friend’s daughter.

Sometimes I feel like it’s a journey for them, two parallel realities.

Everyone praises the reception of French students. Varia remembers her first day at college in Jarnac. “They gave us bouquets of flowers and wore blue and yellow bracelets. » In Sainte-Marthe, students in the Russian option are mixed with Ukrainians. “We have a good contact, we try to get into conversation, to teach them the phrases of everyday life”, explains Arthur Geoffrey in the terminal. The war almost never enters the discussions or the attitudes of the students. “You are brave”, admires Emmanuelle Nal, a teacher at La Couronne College. His colleague Marielle Palancher remembers “Only once did I see one of the girls wipe away a tear. She immediately came back to class. »

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