A recently established school on the city’s northside supporting children and teenagers from Ukraine is seeing “huge demand” for its services.
The school, based at the Cork Academy of Music on the North Monastery Road, was set up by the tireless volunteers from Shtab Pivdnya in Cork assisting Ukrainian people, with the support of the Cork Academy of Music, Cork Education and Training Board (CETB) and Cork City Council.
It was officially launched at a gathering in City Hall earlier this week, with the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Deirdre Forde, the Ukrainian Ambassador to Ireland, Larysa Gerasko and volunteers in attendance.
Speaking to The Echo, Victor Danylyuk, who is a volunteer with Shtab Pivdnya, said the school, which opened several weeks ago, has been set up to cater to both newly arrived children and teenagers from Ukraine and Ukrainian kids well settled in Ireland.
“According to CSO statistics, almost 40 percent of newly arrived Ukrainians are between 0-19 years old.
“Therefore, we have recently opened a Ukrainian school with the support of parents, the Music Academy, City Council and ETB. It is a mixed school of Irish Ukrainian kids and newly arrived kids,” he said.
“I spoke to the Music Academy and they had free space on Sunday for us so it came together really quicky.
“Volunteers were happy to jump in, the Music Academy were happy to accommodate and parents were extremely happy.” At present, the school is operating on Sundays only offering English classes to children and teens who have recently arrived in Cork and Ukrainian classes to kids who may have moved over to Ireland a long time ago or who were born in Ireland to Ukrainian parents.
However, Mr Danylyuk said he hopes the offering of subjects could be ramped up over time and that he is particularly keen to provide an Irish class.
“I really want an Irish class at least half an hour every Sunday for people to come in and learn things about Ireland and the Irish language as well,” he said.
Mr Danylyuk said there is a relaxed atmosphere at the Sunday school which he said is focused on integration.
At present, there are four teachers at the school and just over 30 kids ranging in age from five to 15.
While the school will not replace mainstream education, its aim is to support young Ukrainians or people of Ukrainian descent and is currently seeing a “huge demand” for its services.
Mr Danylyuk also said he hoped that with “countrywide efforts”, a Ukrainian language exam would soon be available as a Leaving Cert option.