UN, NGOs launch ‘Welcome to School’ info campaign for Ukrainians in Bulgaria

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in partnership with the Access to Rights Foundation (ARF), the Astra Forum Foundation (AAF), the Bulgarian Red Cross and the For Good Foundation have launched the “Welcome to School” information campaign to enroll Ukrainian children in schools in Bulgaria.

Unicef said that the campaign aims to support the efforts of Bulgaria’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health to provide access to education and healthcare.

The campaign aims to reach (online and offline) around 20 000 people and help families learn about all the benefits and specifics of the Bulgarian education system and be aware of the steps they should take, Unicef said.

According to national authorities, there are more than 39 000 children from Ukraine in Bulgaria.

“Some of them continue to study online in the Ukrainian education system, which prevents them from socialising with their peers in Bulgaria and benefiting from the additional support, language learning, participation in extracurricular activities and more  Bulgarian schools can offer,” Unicef said.

About 530 children from Ukraine were enrolled in the Bulgarian education system in the last school year.

Since the beginning of the summer, 350 applications have been submitted by Ukrainian families for enrolling their children in school in Varna alone. Many parents are still hesitant about what to do about their children’s education, Unicef said.

Information meetings are held in 10 key locations in Bulgaria in Russian and Ukrainian.

ARF advocates clarify the procedures that refugees from Ukraine can take to enrol their children in the Bulgarian education system and ARF experts clarify the health requirements for entering kindergarten and school (such as mandatory routine immunization against contagious childhood diseases).

At the end of each session, time is provided for answering questions from parents in attendance, who will also receive printed information booklets.

Experts from government institutions have also been invited to give updates.

The Bulgarian Red Cross will provide additional explanatory sessions at the Blue Zone Refugee Support Centres and the For the Greater Good Foundation at its integration centre in Sofia.

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