Municipalities have found places in schools for Ukrainian refugees well
In May, the Finnish National Agency for Education already conducted a second survey of early childhood education and care, education and training providers and the management of municipal education services regarding children and young people who fled from Ukraine being placed in early childhood education and care and education. A total of 294 responses were received, of which 278 were in the Finnish-language survey and 16 were in the Swedish-language one.
Based on the survey, it appears that during the spring, municipalities have been able to organise places for Ukrainian refugees who have applied for training or education. Refugees from Ukraine apply for a place in early childhood education and care and education in the same manner as others do, and it is normal for all applicants to have to wait for a while. However, based on the responses to the survey, the number of places has been arranged quickly, and the number of those waiting for a response has not been high.
The largest number of applications and the longest waiting lists are for instruction preparing immigrants for basic education. Based on the responses, at the time 276 people fleeing Ukraine were waiting for a place. According to the statistics of the KOSKI data repository of the Finnish National Agency for Education, 2,702 people who had fled Ukraine were placed in the preparatory teaching of basic education at the end of May.
‘It is understandable that you have to wait a while for a place when a lot of new children and young people arrive in a short period of time. However, it seems that on average, the provision of education and training has been successful,’ says Katri Kuukka, Counsellor of Education from the Finnish National Agency for Education.
According to statistics maintained by the Finnish National Agency for Education, there were 3,446 refugees from Ukraine in early childhood education and care, pre-primary and basic education and upper secondary education at the end of May. The numbers of refugees from Ukraine have continued to increase during May, but to a lesser extent than earlier in the spring.
In the survey, ECEC providers assessed their readiness to accept new children and young people in summer 2022 and autumn 2022. 45% of the respondents felt that their capabilities were fairly or very good, and 27% selected neither good nor poor. 28% of respondents estimated their readiness to accept new children and young people in early childhood education and care or education to be fairly or very poor.
The admission of new children and young people to early childhood education and care and education is made more difficult by the lack of staff with language skills and interpretation services, the number of staff and facilities, and the fact that it is difficult to predict the number of incoming children and young people, among other things. Another challenge in vocational education and training is that educational institutions do not necessarily have the authorisation to organise English-language degrees. Extensive cooperation between different actors, contact persons with language skills and experiences of similar situations, on the other hand, improve municipalities' capacity to organise places in education and early childhood education and care.
The survey also asked whether municipalities know why some of the refugees do not participate in teaching or training in Finland. The majority of respondents reported that some children and young people are receiving remote teaching from Ukraine. According to the respondents, the time period being the end of the academic year and the wish for a quick return to their home country also have an impact.
‘The situation has been in continuous turmoil during the spring, as those fleeing Ukraine have only just settled in Finland. In August, the situation may be different when we have a whole new academic year ahead,’ says Katri Kuukka.
‘At the moment, it is also important for municipalities to plan how children and young people who have fled Ukraine will be supported in the summer when schools and educational institutions are on holiday and to prepare the teaching arrangements for the coming academic year. Early childhood education and care is open all summer,’ Kuukka points out.
The Finnish National Agency for Education has published support material for municipalities on supporting the summer-time learning and well-being of those who have fled Ukraine.
Questions for providers of early childhood education and care, teaching and education:
Jenna Nieminen, Expert, jenna.nieminen [at] oph.fi, +358 295 331 351
Provision of education and training for refugees from Ukraine:
Katri Kuukka, Counsellor of Education, katri.kuukka [at] oph.fi, +358 295 331 445
KOSKI and VARDA statistics:
Irma Garam, Specialist, irma.garam [at] oph.fi, +358 295 338 549