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08.10.2009

Cabinet of Ministers rules on language

   

In a rather bizarre Resolution from 30 September (No. 1033), the Cabinet of Ministers has authorized changes to the Regulations on General Educational Institutions, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers on 14 June 2000 (No. 964).

The Regulations are now to contain a new Item 241 which reads:

“In State and municipal general educational institutions Ukrainian shall be the language of tuition. Together with Ukrainian in the teaching process in State and municipal general educational institutions, languages of national minorities may be used and studied.”

Item 46 is supplemented with the following paragraph:

“In working hours in State and municipal general educational institutions the Ukrainian language shall be used regularly, and in State and municipal general educational institutions with tuition in a language of a national minority together with the Ukrainian language – also the language which is used for tuition within the institution.”

It is as yet unclear what, if any, ramifications, this Resolution will have. A prominent human rights organization has already offered to help any teachers who wish to file a law suit objecting to this encroachment on their freedom.

It seems likely that the Resolution is not unconnected with the plans at present to make students take external exams for entering university in the Ukrainian language from 2010.  We will be returning to this issue which is fraught for many national minorities, and has caused considerable conflict in the Crimea, where more than 80% of the population name Russian as their native language. More importantly, perhaps, only 5% of school students in the Crimea at present study in Ukrainian, and while the theory is that more intensive tuition in Ukrainian will be provided, this remains theory, and would, in any case, run up against a lot of opposition on the peninsula.

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