A new report on the challenges and opportunities of the refugee inflow from Ukraine has just been released.

The Hospitable Poland 2022+ report includes an analysis of the current situation in Poland in many areas of the economy and recommendations concerning the present unprecedented massive refugee situation. The report was drafted by the WiseEuropa Foundation in cooperation with leading academic experts and NGOs.

The refugee crisis, with which Poland is currently coping, has posed many social and economic challenges for public institutions which cannot be solved only by the current policies of managing refugee inflow. The report’s authors believe that these challenges can be met by systemic change and a holistic, coherent strategy of public policy implementation by the government, local authorities, NGOs and grass roots civil society initiatives.

One chapter is devoted to education and presents an analysis of the factors conducive to the effective education of immigrants, existing legal solutions in this area, as well as detailed recommendations on systemic activities. The main barrier indicated here to the high performance of immigrant students is unfamiliarity with the language of instruction. However, the socio-economic status of the family, parents’ education and the segregation of immigrant students in certain schools or regions also play a large role.  

In addition to the above-mentioned factors, many refugee students from Ukraine have more difficult learning conditions than their Polish counterparts, and in many cases also experience emotional problems connected to their war experiences and being uprooted from their environment, cut off from friends and loved ones or living in unstable conditions. Unfortunately, as the authors point out, both existing as well as newly introduced systemic solutions for the education of Ukrainian refugees are not sufficient to meet their needs.

Since the majority of refugee children from Ukraine are outside the Polish education system, helping them should include flexible solutions with the priority of providing these children with a sense of security, stability and future prospects. Below are eight recommendations of the report’s authors regarding the education system:

  1.  Enable Ukrainian students to enter the Polish education system in both general and preparatory classes. Such solutions should be permanent and adequately funded.
  2.  Enable Ukrainian students continuing their education remotely to integrate socially with Polish students, learn the Polish language and use the facilities, equipment and social programmes, such as school meals, in Polish schools.
  3.  Ultimately the education of Ukrainian students should continue in Polish schools with the maintenance of national identity, e.g. following the model for linguistic minorities or a new model combining elements of the Polish and Ukrainian systems.
  4.  Support Ukrainian students during the summer to learn Polish, make up curriculum differences and establish relationships with Polish students.
  5.  Support local governments in accepting additional numbers of Ukrainian students in accordance with their place of residence.
  6.  Support Polish teachers through training in working with children with migration experience and managing culturally diverse classrooms. Support Ukrainian teachers with additional Polish language classes and by temporarily lifting Polish language requirements.
  7.  Strengthen the pedagogical and psychological support system by simplifying the procedure for recognising the qualifications of Ukrainian specialists, e.g. by removing the requirement to know the Polish language.
  8.  Provide financial support to local governments so that they can offer preschool and school care for all concerned.

The Hospitable Poland 2022+ report is available at the WiseEuropa Fundation website.