The most important part of the report is the recommendations section, where we draw on our findings and give a detailed account of how we think integration could be best brought about. These have been categorised into four areas: integration, cooperation, communication, and logistics. What we propose is an opening up of opportunities for working together with refugee children, their parents, Ukrainian teachers, and the government.
Reflections on the preparation process
My task was to co-write the section on the Ukrainian educational system, define some of the challenges relating to mental health support for pupils in Poland, and map the academic expertise available. I also contributed to brainstorming recommendations. The experience of being an observant member of CPERG has helped me to bring in a peace-focused education perspective.
The most important discovery I made while preparing the report concerns the Ukrainian educational system. I was struck by the innovativeness of the reform launched already in 2018, called the “New Ukrainian School” (NUS), meant to educate “patriots, innovators and individualists” (NUS, 2017). The system puts more emphasis on acquiring competencies than just memorising content, by enabling an ‘activity-based’ approach and ‘project-based learning’ (MON, 2022). One of the most important aspirations of this concept – which I align with – is to educate active members of society. I felt that in Poland, the public started truly reflecting on this issue only during the pandemic. I was therefore tempted to make the radical suggestion of integrating Polish schools into the NUS framework, as opposed to integration Ukrainian students into the Polish system! Moreover, the NUS has its own website with guidelines and resources. Its authors collaborate with forward-thinking educational NGOs, such as the Ukrainian organisation ‘Smart Osvita’ (‘Smart Education’). Collectively, they have been very active and creative in trying to keep up children’s morale and provide emotional and psychological relief from the war. From the start of the invasion, they have been posting a variety of articles with psychological advice, practical tips, or games that kids can play in hiding. They have also tried to create a sense of solidarity with other children across the country by organising online meetings. These initiatives display high level of resilience and courage in the face of tragedy.
Writing the report was both an intense and joyful endeavour. Despite our concern for refugees and those fighting in Ukraine, what fuelled us was the solidarity and fraternity between our two nations. Most of all, we were glad that this national effort brought us Poles together, long struggling with polarisation and division.
Releasing the report
The responses to the report were very positive. It was shared on social media by representatives of leading educational organisations in Poland, private companies, and influential educators, as well as one of the former ministers of education. The team of coordinators also led a successful press campaign. Leading media platforms, including radio and online newspapers in Poland, released content focusing on our report, as well as mentioning it in several texts that relate to Ukrainian refugee education. Our report was also referenced in an open letter from educators in Poland to the Prime Minister and political party leaders, asking to scrap final exams for Ukrainian refugee children. We were contacted by people from abroad, such as a Romanian Member of Parliament, who were interested in reading the report.
Currently, we are working on promoting our report among Polish parliamentarians working on educational issues, as well as at the Council for Refugee Education at the Education Ministry. We also produced an executive summary of the report in English, mentioned above, where we shortened some of the chapters and removed the fifth and sixth chapter. As we continue to promote the report, we are hoping it will be used not only by governmental agencies, but also NGOs and other entities working with refugee children from Ukraine.
Regardless of whether this will come to fruition, for me, it is enough that I was able to contribute and fully employ what I have learnt as a student at the Faculty of Education. The experience reassured me of the need for humility and a quiet acceptance, as well as embracing of our daily challenges and opportunities, without the need for heroics. Teamwork was at the core of our endeavour. We all depended on each other and kept lifting each other up, despite the relatively short timeframe of the project. I hope that this report will be a tool to lift up Ukrainian refugees in Poland and abroad, and those who are helping them.
Transatlantic Future Leaders Forum (TFLF). (2022). Recommendations for the integration of refugee children from Ukraine in the Polish education system. Transatlantic Future Leaders Forum. https://transatlanticforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/TLFL-Raport-o-integracji-dzieci-z-Ukariny_web.pdf
Kropiwiec, K. (2022). MEiN rekrutuje chętnych do pomocy edukacyjnej dla dzieci i młodzieży z Ukrainy. Dziennik Gazeta Prawna. https://serwisy.gazetaprawna.pl/edukacja/artykuly/8372320,pomoc-dla-ukrainy-nauczyciel-nauczanie-mein.html
Istel, M. (2022). Ilu uchodźców z Ukrainy wjeżdżało dziennie do Polski? Dane od początku wojny. Konkret24. https://konkret24.tvn24.pl/polska,108/ilu-uchodzcow-z-ukrainy-wjezdzalo-dziennie-do-polski-dane-od-poczatku-wojny,1100170.html
NUS. (2017). Випускник нової школи. Нова Українська школа. https://nus.org.ua/about/graduate/
MON. (2022). New Ukrainian School. Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine. https://mon.gov.ua/eng/tag/nova-ukrainska-shkola#:~:text=The%20New%20Ukrainian%20School%20is,apply%20it%20in%20real%20life.
 TFLF organises internships for Polish students in the US Congress and the UK Parliament and has gathered a network of resourceful alumni over the years which they now decided to bring together for a better cause.
 TVN24 (the biggest private news platform in the country), Gazeta Wyborcza, Radio FM, as well as OKOPress, to name a few.