Education in exile: Ukrainian refugee students in the schooling system in Poland following the Russian–Ukrainian war
Following the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine since February 2022, Poland adopted institutional solutions and policies to facilitate the inclusion of Ukrainian refugees in the schooling system. We analyse geographical patterns and local determinants of the participation of children and young people from Ukraine in education in Poland. Applying a computer-based geographic information system and statistical analysis to administrative data from schools and municipalities in Poland, we found that about 50% of the Ukrainian refugees at schools in Poland are of primary school age, while the rates for other age groups are significantly lower. Ukrainian refugees are more likely to attend public schools in affluent urban municipalities and places with more developed accommodation infrastructure. Clearly, the role of local resources was of key importance in the territorial distribution of refugee families in Poland during the first year of the war. Another factor that proved to be important in attracting refugees was the presence of pre-war Ukrainian immigrants in schools. Observed patterns differ between spring and autumn 2022, which partly reflects the changes in migration to Poland and then back to Ukraine. We anticipate that much of the Ukrainian migration to Poland may outlast the current conflict. This situation creates further challenges for education in Poland—and even more so for Ukraine.