Hérault: in La Grande-Motte, Ukrainian refugees benefit from tailor-made French learning

This device, initially aimed at disadvantaged students, is being extended to Ukrainian children and adults to speed up the acquisition of French.

In the small classroom of the old Pierre et Vacances du Levant center, the faces are attentive. A class whose originality is to mix generations from 7 to 92 years. Élodie Garcia, professor of literature at the Philippe Lamour College in La Grande-Motte, offers these thirty Ukrainian refugees a course on the use of the verb to be in the present tense.

We are at the heart of the “Learning Holidays” system, implemented by the national education system two years ago and which allows hundreds of academy students to refresh themselves during all holidays (see below).

Teachers on the other side of the desk …

In front of the rector of the academy Sophie Béjean and the mayor of La Grande-Motte, Stéphan Rossignol, all the Ukrainians stand up one by one to present themselves in a Frenchman already well mastered after a month of classes. Micha, a 36-year-old designer, is there with women, children and parents. Alexis comes from Kyiv, Lena is a school teacher, Ilana was a math teacher at a high school in Kyiv. They are on the other side of the desk, humbly, with a disarming smile and even a touch of humor to handle polite expressions. When 36-year-old Olga confides that she is coming from Boutcha, she immediately plunges us back into the atrocities committed several thousand miles away and never forsakes them for a long time.

“We’re making a lot of progress with her”

In a short message read in French, Irina thanks La Grande-Motte and France in general “great welcome” waiting “that will warm the hearts of our soldiers who remain there”. “What she does is very important to us, for our integration, we are making great progress with her.” Nastya trusted later, squeezing the teacher’s arm affectionately. Bonds are forged, on the frontiers of friendship and complicity with this teacher “I’m amazed to see them gain their independence day in and day out.”

“Our role is to welcome and educate Ukrainian students, underlines the rector Sophie Béjean. There are already more than 13,000 in France and more than 700 at the Montpellier Academy. And it was natural to extend this adult learning holiday program to adults, with the help of communities and associations. ”

“Some of them see the sea for the first time”

Because behind the scenes, the action of the mayors is essential to set up this chain of solidarity. In La Grande-Motte, the new owners of this holiday center made it available for the temporary reception of 38 refugees and the mayor, Stéphan Rossignol, did the rest: “The meals are provided by the agglo and the food bank, the Rotary club and other associations have organized concerts, we have recovered bicycles for these refugees and we have voted 10,000 euros in aid to the city council and 15,000 euros in the agglo “. The municipality has even set up a six-month CDD for Igor Stavinenko, a 20-year-old former Ukrainian soldier who has lived in La Grande-Motte and who accompanies the group on a daily basis in all its formalities. “Many of them see the sea and sailboats for the first time, it’s like a dream,” he said. A heavenly parenthesis in the heart of hell.

About 4,500 Ukrainian refugees in the region

The number of Ukrainian refugees housed in the former Languedoc-Roussillon continues to rise. At the beginning of May, there were about 4,500, of which 1,628 in the Hérault (including 595 minors). In the POs, 501 temporary residence permits were granted and 674 appointments were made. In the Gard, the estimate of the prefecture is 690 people, including 240 minors. In Aude, 762 people went to the prefecture for temporary protection, including 303 minors. 726 school-age children have joined the Montpellier Academy classes.

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