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German state to introduce Ukrainian as second foreign language at schools

The initiative by the Hessen federal state is aimed at preserving Ukrainian identity and culture and also supports the education of approximately 20,000 Ukrainian students who fled to Hessen due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
German and Ukrainian flags.
German and Ukrainian flags. Photo: Depositphotos
German state to introduce Ukrainian as second foreign language at schools

The German federal state of Hessen will introduce Ukrainian as a second foreign language in its schools from the 2024/2025 school year, Hessenschau reports. 

Germany has one of the highest numbers of Ukrainian refugees among EU countries, with over 1 million as per 2024 data. 

The initiative primarily aims to support the approximately 20,000 Ukrainian students who fled to Hessen due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. However, people without a Ukrainian background can also study Ukrainian as a foreign language. According to Hessenschau, the trial phase for this initiative at German schools starts in the coming school year.

“In addition to being a sign of solidarity, this is also “a contribution to preserving the identity and culture of Ukraine,” said Manfred Pentz (CDU), Minister for Federal and European Affairs

He emphasized the importance of allowing Ukrainian students to learn their mother tongue in school alongside German. 

A second foreign language is needed to ensure Ukrainian students obtain advanced school diplomas in Germany. By offering Ukrainian alongside English, which is typically taught as the first foreign language in Ukraine, Hessen state hopes to enable these students to pursue higher-qualified educational paths, according to Hessenschau.

The Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Oleksii Makeiev, praised this decision and expressed hope that other German states would follow Hessen’s example.

 “We consider it a recognition of Ukrainian as an important European language, Makeiev said. 

Currently, Hessen’s schools offer these foreign languages to students: English, French, Latin, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Polish, and Ancient Greek. Turkish will be a pilot project as a second foreign language similar to Ukrainian.

A recent Eurobarometer survey conducted in April 2024 showed that 83% of Europeans support the acceptance of war refugees from Ukraine.

One survey in 2023 showed that 440,000 out of over 1 million Ukrainian refugees in Germany intend to stay permanently, an increase from 39% in 2022. 


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