Ukrainian refugee students in France have already returned to school, in French primary, middle and high schools which are organizing to make room for them. Since the beginning of the conflict, 300 young people have been received in Paris. If these new schoolchildren do not yet master the language, the teachers notice that they stand out in other subjects and in particular in mathematics.
In French schools, Ukrainian students are making their mark. The vast majority of them speak neither English nor French, but show particular fluency in mathematics. An ease of calculation and understanding that some teachers have noticed.
At the François Villon college, in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, four Ukrainians who fled the war were welcomed in a UPE2A class (Educational Unit for incoming allophone students), with other foreign schoolchildren to resume the basics.
On the program for the day: a calculation course with mathematics teacher Gaëlle Mirabel. “We are going to do a subtraction. So how much is that?” she asks at the start of the lesson. Without hesitation, Angelina, 14, a Ukrainian refugee and originally from the city of Khmelnytskyi west of kyiv, raises her hand to answer, without hesitation. “0.7”, she says simply to the teacher who insists on taking her back: “We say 0 comma 7.” In the student, she already notices automatisms: “She writes directly +2.5, while the other students still need to write twice +. But now, she also does multiplications and divisions. For 80% others, it’s not worth it.”
“The exercises are much easier than in Ukraine”
Like the 17 foreign students in this class adapted with tailor-made courses, Angelina does not yet speak French very well, but in mathematics, she is already a step ahead: “The exercises are much easier here than they were in Ukraine. You learn to solve problems faster. I studied these exercises a long time ago. We train differently, but I don’t mind that.”
She even helps her neighbors spontaneously, confides Gaëlle Mirabel: “Marius since he’s been next to Angélina, he’s much better at math, he’s made a lot of progress!”. In the same way, Paulina, 11, who arrived from kyiv a month ago with her family, quickly finishes the exercises and the attentive teacher comes to correct her copy, which also contains few errors.
If these two Ukrainians are already mumbling the numbers from one to ten in French, they will still have to work on the language to be sufficiently comfortable and join math lessons for good, at the same time as the French students.
300 Ukrainians educated in Paris
Like them, since the start of the conflict, more than 300 students have been received in primary, middle and high schools in Paris, according to the Rectorate. Hundreds of cases are being processed. The special number 0 800 200 146 has also been set up so that refugee parents can place their children in an establishment.