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How are Linguistic Rights Implemented in Education?

How are Linguistic Rights Implemented in Education?

Within expert seminar, the discussion of the problem acquired a practical focus. Emphasis was placed on the approaches to solve the problem developed by the researchers.

Szymon Jankiewicz, the Director of the Center for Education Law of the HSE Institute of Education, highlighted the relevance of the discussed topic in the context of inspections, concerning the protection of minority languages conducted the Office of the Procurator-General of the Russian Federation, and formulated the important question about how linguistic rights are consistent with once-unified educational area. The speaker demosnstrated the differentiation of approaches to the solution of this problem, using various Russian regions as the examples.

Junior Research Fellow of the Center for Education Law of the HSE Institute of Education, Nadezhda Knyaginina, delivered a presentation on the implementation of linguistic rights in Russian educational system, described the main linguistic rights of students and showed the existing models of their implementation. These included the education in Russian or in another language (among the languages spoken in the  Russian Federation), as well as in foreign languages. The issue of studying the Russian language and the languages of the republics was specifically examined.

It turned out that in some regions, in spite of the requirements of federal legislation, the study of the national language of the region is mandatory. In other subjects of the Federation, the right to learn the national language is not absolute, but conditional. The realization of this right is possible only if the local educational system has the capability to do it.

The report also examined the issue of the powers of entities that affect linguistic rights. Nadezhda Knyaginina drew attention to the fact that the issue of providing students with textbooks is of particular relevance, since the Federal List contains a small number of textbooks in national languages.

The question about compulsory study of the national language at schools still remains the main issue. In 8 republics of the Russian Federation, it is mandatory, and it is a problem, since the content of education is federally regulated, and entities can intervene in this process only by initiating the implimention of changes to federal legislation - marked Nadezhda Knyaginina an important aspect of the issue and noted that this will not solve the problems that arise during the certification (final exams) held in the Russian language. In this case, children who study in a national language may find themselves being more disadvantaged.

Colleagues from Yakutia, in particular, Feodosiya Gabysheva, the First Deputy Minister of Education of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia), also took part in the seminar.

Feodosiya Vasilievna presented a report on the current state of the problem in the Sakha Republic (Yakutia), clearly illustrating the existing questions. As a part of the report, the role of the entities in solving current problems was emphasized, and emphasis was placed on the need for early formation of bilingual abilities. However, the main problem faced by educational organizations is the shortage of personnel: teachers of the republic language. It was suggested to resume the development of Russian language (as a foreign language) textbooks, to create a pan-Russian center for bilingual education, to include in the Federal List textbooks that take into account the national language of the child, to hold pan-Russian discussions on the strategy of preserving Russia's cultural diversity, in particular through education in the native language.

The representative of the Republic of Bashkortostan, Azat Badranov, the head of the Association of students and graduate students of Bashkortostan in Moscow and St. Petersburg, made a report on the approaches to the resolution of the problem in the Republic of Bashkortostan and noted that the issue of teaching native and state languages in Bashkirian schools ​​has exceeded the education borders and is characterized today by the worthening of interethnic relations, the growth of nationalism (both Bashkir and Russian ethno-nationalisms). The topic of the report aroused extensive discussions, and it was concluded that it is necessary to stabilize the situation and develop new approaches.

Azat Badranov highlighted the challenges faced by the residents of the Republic due to the lack of the possibility to participate in the regional management of the content of education. Prosecutor's checks, which took place in a number of educational institutionas, provoked a huge number of interethnic conflicts and rallies.

The expert proposed two models of the strategy for stabilizing the situation in the region. One of the models is to introduce a provision, granting the Republic the right to establish compulsory study of the second state language of the republic. However, the compulsory study of the language of the republic should be limited to the right of students (their parents and legal representatives) to refuse to study the language of the republic on a written request. The second model is the adoption of the educational standards that establish a balance of teaching the Russian state language and second state languages ​​in the entities of Russia by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation.

Experts from Great Britain, Germany, Spain and Sweden also participated in the discussion.

Irina Rönnqvist, an employee of the Swedish Employment Agency, spoke about the steps that Sweden is taking to successfully integrate migrants. Some of them relate to the language education, because in Sweden there are already 250 000 thousand speakers of exclusively Arabic language. In total there are about 500 000 migrants who do not speak Swedish.

Steps for language integration are a part of the Etablering reform, which involves two-year support for migrants (most of them are refugees). They are given the right to study Swedish (20 hours a week) free of charge, as well as other subjects (also 20 hours a week). This knowledge will allow them to adapt to life in the new country. The knowledge of the language is not a mandatory requirement for obtaining Swedish citizenship, and these steps are aimed at improving the quality of life.

Anita Soboleva, an Associate Professor of the Department of Theory and History of Law at the Faculty of Law of the Higher School of Economics, spoke about the problems associated with the implementation of linguistic rights in Russia, noting that there is a positive practice – the right to use of interpreters in judicial proceedings for free.

Vitaly Matveev, the head of the laboratory of the educational law of the Moscow City Pedagogical University, pointed out that preserving the language is not only a government obligation, but also a part of the responsibility of people. And if the native speakers themselves do not want to preserve it, no one can force them to do this. However it also may operate in the reverse – when the language is reborn, as it was with the official language of Israel.

The discussion on linguistic rights in education will continue in the Center for Education Law of the HSE Institute of Education in January, 2018 involving Professor Fernand de Varen, the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues.