The number of children and young people who have fled Ukraine in Germany’s schools is stagnating. According to the Conference of Ministers of Education (KMK), there were around 135,000, within a week there was an increase of almost 1,500. In Thuringia, Lower Saxony and Bremen, more Ukrainian students were deregistered than new ones were added.

That is amazing. At the beginning of April, KMK President Karin Prien had expected around 400,000 additional students in the near future. The CDU Education Minister of Schleswig-Holstein had assumed that there would be a total of one million people seeking protection, at least 40 percent of whom would be of school age.

There are currently around 820,000 registered refugees from Ukraine in Germany. So either many parents send their children to school after an extremely long delay (contrary to common sense), or something is wrong with the statistics.

But the trend, which should be more reliable than the absolute figures, is also worth noting. Ukraine is in a critical phase of the war, the Russian attack pressure is enormous, and yet many families decide to stay at home. But at least not to come to Germany or even to turn your back on Germany.

Is it like the Ukrainian ambassador Andriy Melnyk says that many of his compatriots are leaving the country again because they don’t feel welcome here? Melnyk polarizes with practically every one of his statements. But it would be a mistake to brush aside his accusation with the counter-argument that many Germans have shown themselves to be very helpful.

Feelings of gratitude and being welcome do not arise in traumatized people at the touch of a button. Yes, they need medicine, food, clothing, a roof over their heads, support with everyday things and personal contact, and hundreds of thousands of families in Germany have given them all of this.

Above all, however, refugees need the perspective of not only being affected or even victims, but of being able to shape their own lives again. And if possible in their home country. This is exactly where the key to the mutual incomprehension between guests and hosts could lie.

For many Ukrainians, Consul General Irina Tybinka said clearly in March that this means they don’t want to become the next generation of immigrants who need to be integrated. They want to go home as soon as possible. And they expect their hosts to help with that.

Please don’t put the refugee children and young people in so-called welcome classes, Tybinka demanded, but teach them according to Ukrainian curricula.

What happened: Most of the children ended up in welcome classes, learning German became the top priority. At least not the only one. The Ministers of Education began to hire Ukrainian teachers who had fled to support them, and the response was great. An important signal was that the federal government, KMK and German universities enable Ukrainian university entrance tests to be carried out at six locations. But it’s just a signal.

The reality is paradoxical: in order for Ukrainian families to feel more welcome in Germany and to stay longer, they would have to be offered all the more of the education they need for life in Ukraine. As far as possible without knowing it all, which is good for refugees. And because most families won’t find that here, they’ll do whatever it takes, risking it, to be back home for the start of the new school year.

Whether other national school systems respond better to the refugees, I cannot say. The education ministers will object that they cannot simulate the Ukrainian education system. The usual school integration program has to run out of responsibility towards the children.

But it is also true: the more they create around it in terms of Ukrainian language and cultural offerings, the better. Above all, however, we should not expect happiness from those affected. And don’t be surprised if they go back.