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Poland ready for int’l children – minister

The Polish education minister Anna Zalewska has said they are ready to accept international school children in addition to “the bilingual children of Poles”, in response to the interior ministry’s controversial plan for asylum-seeking children to start attending classes at special refugee centres rather than local public schools.

Newspaper Dziennik Gazeta Prawna called the school plan an "educational ghetto for refugees"

According to the spokesman for the Polish Office for Foreigners, Jakub Dudziak, there are 1,450 people in Polish refugee centres and 890 are children.

“We are waiting for Poles who are coming [back to Poland] with their bilingual children”

Most people applying for international protection in Poland are from the Russian republic of Chechnya, Dudziak said.

The interior ministry said the plan would be better for foreign minors, compared to attending mainstream school alongside Polish children, as is currently the case.

“Some foreign children do not learn despite attending school because they have educational gaps compared to their Polish peer[s] and so struggle to catch up with school material,” said the interior ministry’s proposal.

Radio Poland has reported that the interior ministry attempted to justify its new rules, saying: “the potential risk of influx of foreigners, especially the significant increase in the number of school-aged children, and the emergence of negative attitudes of the local community towards foreigners seeking international protection, necessitate the search for solutions that will help to facilitate and improve the teaching method for foreign children in Poland.

“These factors may have a negative and demotivating effect not only on foreign children, who are reluctant to go to school but also on Polish children.”

However, Polish newspaper Dziennik Gazeta Prawna called the school plan an “educational ghetto for refugees” and quoted leading educator Krystyna Starczewska who said the idea was “horrific”.

Zalewska said the education ministry was “prepared not only to receive foreigners – because foreigners are [already] in the education system – but also for [returnees]. We are waiting for Poles who are coming [back to Poland] with their bilingual children”.

She added that the education ministry had the finances and manpower to help foreign children enter the education system quickly.

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