No equality of languages in the Crimea


Despite the assurances given by Russia when it annexed the Crimea and the fact that there are three state languages – Ukrainian, Russian and Crimean Tatar, the time assigned to each in Crimean schools is totally disproportionate, the Crimean News Agency [QHA] reports. While school students have a Russian language lesson once a day, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar in the absolute majority of Crimean schools are marginalized – often as an optional course or not at all.

In exceptional cases Crimean Tatar or Ukrainian are part of the curriculum, but with one or two hours maximum a week.  Russian legislation stipulates that where Russian is the language of tuition, a child’s native language should be allocated 3 hours a week.

According to Lemara Selendili, associate professor of the department of Crimean Tatar Language and Literature at the Tavrida National University and former deputy Crimean minister of education, heads of schools are making use of the fact that parents are not familiar with the Russian law on education.  They simply opt for the first version of the curriculum with Russian tuition and without the study of the children’s native (Crimean Tatar) language.

Since all schools in the Crimea have children whose native language is Ukrainian or Crimean Tatar, the schools are obliged to follow the second version of the curriculum.  This involves 3 Ukrainian or Crimean Tatar lessons a week in the elementary grades, and then study of both the language and literature as regional component from the fifth to the ninth grades.

Selendili strongly advises parents to make applications for their children to be taught according to this version of the curriculum.

However QHA notes that such applications often have no impact, with Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian languages being offered as ‘extracurricular activities’.   This was the case, for example, in School No. 2 in Pervomaiskoye.  The parents of 9 Crimean Tatar children applied for their kids to have Crimean Tatar taught as a subject. Despite the fact that only 8 children were needed for this to be compulsory, the school ignored the applications and only offer Crimean Tatar as an optional course.

The same situation is seen throughout the Crimea except in the 16 Crimean Tatar national schools. 

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