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Bridging cultures: Ukrainian schools in Ireland

Photo by Uliana Poshyvak for The Circular

Ukrainian Saturday Schools were established by the Association of Ukrainians in the Republic of Ireland (AURI). These schools serve as vital cultural and educational centers, nurturing the Ukrainian heritage and language among the younger generation.

The first Ukrainian school, Native School, in Ireland opened its doors in 2009 with the aim of preserving the heritage and traditions of the small Ukrainian community in the country at that time. However, with the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine starting on February 24, 2022, many Ukrainian nationals sought temporary shelter in Ireland. This influx of Ukrainian refugees highlighted the need for additional schools nationwide to support the learning of the Ukrainian language and to provide a sense of unity and support for children during these challenging times.

In response to this increased demand, more Ukrainian Saturday Schools have been established across Ireland, bringing the total number to nine. These schools cater to children born in Ireland but with Ukrainian heritage, providing them with a valuable connection to their roots and a means to preserve their cultural and linguistic identity.

The Ukrainian Saturday Schools play a crucial role in fostering Ukrainian cultural and linguistic heritage within the Irish community. They serve as important hubs for the Ukrainian diaspora, creating a sense of community and providing a platform for cultural exchange. Through these schools, Ukrainian children in Ireland are able to learn their native language, literature, and shared traditions, contributing significantly to the multicultural fabric of Ireland.

The curriculum of these schools is carefully crafted to instill pride in Ukrainian heritage while ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the language and literature. Students not only learn the fundamentals of the Ukrainian language but also explore its rich literary traditions, gaining a deeper appreciation for the cultural heritage that shapes their identity.

Photo by Uliana Poshyvak for The Circular

Children from the Native School actively participate in various events, showcasing their Ukrainian culture and heritage to the broader Irish community. Recently, they had a unique opportunity to lend their voices to the characters of the popular Irish cartoon “Puffin Rock and new friends.” This collaboration not only provided the children with a fun and educational experience but also promoted cultural exchange and understanding between the Ukrainian and Irish communities.

Another important event for uniting both cultures was held on Saturday, March 30th, at the Sandymount Community Centre. In celebration of Easter Monday, the Association of Ukrainians in the Republic of Ireland and the team of teachers from the Ukrainian “Native School” extend greetings to both the Ukrainian and Irish communities. This family event aimed to bring together families to share and celebrate Ukrainian culture and traditions.

Maria Starukh, the director of ‘Native school’, says that the “teaching staff consists of highly qualified teachers who, together with parents, actively work on expanding the educational program. In addition to core subjects, throughout the academic year, ‘Native School’ organizes various events, holidays, and performances such as Saint Nicholas Day, Mother’s Day, Independence Day, and many others.” She also highlighted that at school “highly appreciate the support of our students, parents, and teachers who help provide our school with all the necessary materials to ensure a comfortable and stimulating learning environment.”

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