Monday, February 10, 2020

Secret Government Order Directs Tatarstan Schools to Impose New Cuts on Instruction in Tatar

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 3 – Pavel Shmakov, the head of a Kazan school, says that prosecutors acting on the basis of a secret government directive, are demanding that all schools in the republic adopt a single curriculum, one that will further reduce the number of hours provided for Tatar-language instruction.

            Shmakov says he was shown the letter from the Department for Supervision and Control of the Tatarstan Ministry of Education and Science, told to act on it without sharing or commenting upon it, and to destroy it as soon as he had acted on its provisions which will further reduce Tatar language instruction (

            In the past, the principal adds, he and parents worked together to develop a curriculum for the school; but now the republic presumably acting as Moscow wants seeks to impose a single standard without any input from teachers and administrators, on the one hand, or parents, on the other.

            Such homogenization will mean that schools in one place will be almost identical to schools elsewhere and that Russian rather than any of the non-Russian languages will become in all but a few places the only language of instruction. That these moves are being taken by secret directive shows how much the center fears an explosion of popular anger, Shmakov says.

            In the 1990s, he concedes, there was a problem which arose because the amount of instruction in Russian declined so precipitously. “In Tatarstan, pupils studied Russian less than in other regions. More recently, the balance has shifted in the other direction, as now.” But what he and most parents want is the study of both “state languages.”

            What is worrisome is that when directives to reduce the number of hours of Tatar are issued in secret, some officials are likely to go even further than the letter of such orders because they are convinced that is what the regime wants and that no one in the population will be able to oppose them.

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