As of early May, 57 Ukrainian refugee children study at Mālpils high school. Mostly, Latvian teachers communicate with them in Russian, but in some subjects, Ukrainians help. The school employs four TAs from Ukraine.
"I currently work at school. I work with children and I can say it is a good experience. I am young, I will have worked with both adults and children [..] I have been here for two months and I plan to stay, but I don't know how long," said Tatiana, one of the TAs. Tatiana comes from Kryvyi Rih and is eager to return home to her family. With the other TAs, she currently resides in Mālpils.
The school's English teacher Nina Pavliva is also Ukrainian, but she came to Latvia three years ago.
"I'm helping the school with Ukrainian pupils right now, teaching English. I also help them to get used to their new homes. I am very pleased that the Mālpils community, this school and various organizations in Latvia have been so open and have welcomed these little children and their moms. I'm happy to be part of it," said Nina.
Nina says she doesn't have much trouble as a teacher. The greatest concern at first was how Ukrainian children would get along with Latvian children and get used to the new environment. The result was good, she said.
The school principal Jeļena Caune also confirmed that there are no ethnic disputes. She described the Ukrainian teachers are described as very diligent and work also with Latvian children.
Sigulda municipality is at the top in terms of integration of Ukrainians into the education system. 11 Ukrainians are involved in the education system, which is a quarter of the total number currently employed in education in Latvia. Sigulda's capacity is close to the limit in terms of pupil numbers, so Ukrainian educators come just in time, said Līga Sausiņa, Vice-President of the City Council.
"First of all, it is a contribution to where this large proportion of Ukrainian children is present: it is very important that Ukrainian teachers are employed as assistants. We have an interesting situation – we have taken three of our preschool assistants into kindergartens where there are no nannies. We have three cities where there are no Ukrainian children but there are Latvian children who need nannies,” said Sausiņa.
The teachers were addressed by the municipality itself. To make it easier to reach people in this way, the municipality has a database with information about the arriving Ukrainians and their professions. In total, 41 Ukrainian civilians are currently working in Latvian schools, either as a Ukrainian-language teacher or an assistant. In order to be able to work in school, there must be prior experience or education in this field.
In total, 3800 Ukrainian children are currently studying in Latvian schools.