‘We take into account that there will be more children’
RODEN – From April, classes will be given to Ukrainian children in Noordenveld. At the Fletcher hotel Langewold, students between the ages of 8 and 12 receive Dutch lessons, while at obs de Tandem, children between the ages of 4 and 8 attend classes in a classroom. And it’s going quite well, says coordinator for the Ukraine classes Nettie Feenstra, who is very happy with the cooperation with the municipality, the community and the schools in Noordenveld. There are also challenges for the teachers. The completely different school cultures make the task extra difficult.
In fact, she has been retired since last August. When the war broke out in Ukraine and refugees were taken care of in the Noordenveld municipality, Nettie Feenstra was called. The former director of Het Hoge Holt has the necessary experience with education in the municipality. She knows better than anyone how hares run. Feenstra arranges everything involved in the education of Ukrainian children. From the furniture to agreements with the hotel, from teachers to consultations with the municipality. ‘I enjoy doing things for these children and I also like to arrange things, get things done.’ Feenstra needs only half a word, knows where to get what. And in a complicated situation like this, that’s gold. The Ukrainian classes are set up, there are teaching materials and there is a teacher and a teaching assistant for the groups. In the beginning, there was certainly a lot of uncertainty about the care and education of these children. Things are now running smoothly, according to Feenstra, who expects even more Ukrainian refugees to come to the Noordenveld.
“There are reports that there are long queues of refugees at the Polish border to flee to the west. We take into account that we have to take in even more people, and that more children will therefore have to go to school. Every child who is looked after in this municipality, both in group housing and private care, ends up here. After registering with the municipality, they get a personal number, which they can use here. This is followed by an intake interview in the presence of an interpreter. The children are then divided into groups.’
Different educational culture
Most of the time is spent on Dutch lessons. ‘We work with the Logo 3000 programme, a certified program especially for foreign children. When children know 3000 words, they can go to a regular primary school, that’s the idea behind it. It takes about 40 weeks to reach that level.’ Although education is going well in itself, there are also challenges, says Feenstra. »Many Ukrainian children do not come into contact with their Dutch peers. They continue to speak to each other in their native language. Teachers don’t always understand what they say. In addition, they come from a completely different educational culture, a classroom school system where the teacher is very prominent. We are more of the consultation here, do it together. You will only find out later. It is a challenge for the teachers to guide the children taking into account both cultures. The children are searching for the limits of their possibilities to adapt to the Dutch school culture.’ Another point is the well-being of the children. At first glance, it seems to be going well, says Feenstra. ‘There are few signs of trauma. On the other hand, you know: they have to be there. That makes it difficult. There is a support team from OPON if something is really wrong. But then you run into a language barrier. How to find out what is happening to a child? These are things that worry us.’
The 23 children in both classes go to school from 8.30 to 14.00. Initially it would be until 1 November, which has now been extended to 1 March next year. ‘The hotel is rented by the municipality until 1 March. Nobody knows what happens after that,’ says Feenstra. The coordinator emphasizes that she is happy about the cooperation with the municipality, the community and other schools in Noordenveld. “We are helped on all sides. We greatly appreciate that. The queues for the municipality are short, which is nice. Bookseller Daan Nijman and Bruna donated books to us that they had translated into Ukrainian. We also experience a lot of cooperation from neighboring schools. They spontaneously bring toys they have left over. Great measures, which we are very happy about.’
Activities after school
If Feenstra can mention one more point that needs to be made, it is fun activities after school. It would be so nice if they had something to do. Now they go into their room when school is out. There is nothing for them to do out here. It is a shame. Perhaps Welfare in Noordenveld can help with this. In any case, we will be happy to be recommended for fun activities. The teachers especially came back to Sint Maarten to go for a walk with the children. They loved it.’