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Expert Seminar on “Minorities and Linguistic Rights in Education”

On the 29th of January the Center for Education Law held an expert seminar on “Minorities and Linguistic Rights in Education”.

Expert Seminar on “Minorities and Linguistic Rights in Education”

On the 29th of January the Center for Education Law held an expert seminar on “Minorities and Linguistic Rights in Education”. Both leading researchers and students of the HSE’s faculty of law, whom Professor Jan de Groof personally invited, came to discuss the main issues of the education law.

Jan de Groof, academic supervisor of the Center for Education Law opened the seminar with the speech about his own experience in regulating the minorities’ rights in education. In Belgium (where he is from) the language problem is quite acute. Then Professor de Groof briefly highlighted the current situation with this issue in Russia – multinational and multicultural country with a unique linguistic diversity.

Professor Fernand de Varennes, UN’s special rapporteur on minorities’ issues, the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the Moncton University, devoted his report to the history of this problem in international and national law. He also spoke about the role of international agreements as an instrument of regulation of the minorities’ rights; differences in approaches to the concept of «minority» in Europe and in the UN. In conclusion Professor de Varennes gave several examples of national regulations and highlighted that «there can be no real equality, if we do not provide guarantees that we will allow minorities to feel this equality».

The following discussion was devoted to the discussion of the minorities’ rights to education in different countries, as well as a possible vector of the issue’s development. Vilatiy Matveev (Moscow State Pedagogical University), Denis Zubarev (HSE’s School of Linguistics) and staff of the Center for Education Law – Viktor Vorobyev and Evgenii Puchkov took part in the discussion.

Dr. Federica Prina, researcher at the University of Glasgow, made a presentation on the linguistic rights of minorities in Russian education. According to Dr. Prina, Russia’s term “minority” has a negative color and people do not want to associate themselves with it. Among other features, Dr. Prina discussed the conflict between the existing tradition of “multilingual learning” and the policy of centralization of education, which does not take the public opinion into account. The report also noted the need for creating such conditions that will enable the use of minority languages in everyday life.

The questions after the report touched upon the importance of the political aspects, promotion of minorities’ interest to the preservation of cultural autonomies.

Nadezhda Knyaginina and, Szymon Jankiewicz presented their report on the latest developments in the subject of language rights’ regulation in Russian education.
Based on statistics, speakers gave a number of important insights. They highlighted the question of the relation of language rights to the constitutional rights; public attitude to the study of national languages; question of the national component under GEF.
At the end of the seminar there was a discussion on the topic of linguistic diversity.

“The loss of the national language means the loss of memory and cultural heritage. It is important to seek balance and preserve the minority languages for the future”, - reminded Professor de Groof in his final words. The third round of discussion is supposed to be held at the end of 2018.