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In the first week, 70 students attended Ukrainian school in Tallinn

In the first week, 70 students attended Ukrainian school in Tallinn

A school for children of Ukrainian war refugees opened in Tallinn on 11 April as a branch of Tallinn's Lilleküla Secondary School. On the first day, 67 pupils started studying there, with three more children joining by the end of the week.

Located in the Tallinn University building on Räägu Street, the Ukrainian school will run as a day school until the end of this school year, where children can participate in recreational and other supervised activities. The school will be able to accommodate around 200 children this spring.

"As of last week, 208 applications had been received, but for various reasons not all of those who applied have yet been able to attend the school, and several children have already left Estonia," said Deputy Mayor Vadim Belobrovtsev. "There are currently 70 children enrolled in the school, who are divided into four groups, and another group will open this week. The curriculum will be hybrid - the children will study in the Ukrainian home school e-learning classes as well as taking part in the activities offered by the day school. The first week, albeit short, has shown that the children are adapting well and even learning the first words in Estonian already." 

Natalia Mjalitsina, project manager of the Ukrainian school in Tallinn, said that there are four Ukrainian teachers enrolled as assistant teachers, who essentially fill the role of class teachers. "We have Estonian teachers and soon we will have a Ukrainian and an English teacher. The activities are supervised by an art teacher with experience as an art therapist, a robotics teacher, a sports activity facilitator and dance teachers, and we are also looking for an interesting musician. The activities are conducted in Estonian, so that the children can learn the language by interacting in a natural environment. It is good to see that the children have already taken to Estonian and are actively using it."

Mjalitsina extends her gratitude to everyone who helped to get the Räägu Street building ready for classes in just a few days. "The university vacated the premises by Friday evening and by Monday we had to be ready to welcome the Ukrainian children. With the help of the dedicated people of Lilleküla Secondary School and other schools, our own families, education activists, friends, donators and many others, we did it – thank you all very much," said Mjalitsina.

A significant contribution was made by the book store Apollo, which donated 200 starter packs of essential school supplies, including regular pencils, felt-tip pens, crayons, drawing pads, pens and notebooks. "Apollo attaches great importance to supporting the well-being of war refugees from Ukraine. It is of critical importance to restore a sense of security and a normal life for children who have been through such a traumatic experience," said Eha Pank, CEO of Apollo Kauplused. “Understandably, Ukrainian children starting school in Estonia lack basic school supplies. Therefore, we decided to lend a helping hand and put together a selection of school supplies for them."

The publishing house Kiri-Mari donated a children's book "Hedgehogs and Penguins", containing a selection of children’s poetry in Estonian and Ukrainian.

In autumn, the school will be able to expand in the Räägu Street building and will be able to accommodate 500-600 students. In the new school year, the school will be organised in the same way as other municipal schools in Tallinn, based on the Estonian national curriculum, but children will also be offered support in Ukrainian if needed.