Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Russian Occupation Destroying Crimean Tatar Education

Paul Goble

                Staunton, August 25 – In an appeal to the Russian occupation authorities, Crimean Tatar teachers say that Crimean Tatar instruction has been reduced across the Ukrainian peninsula, a threat to the future existence of the nation because the rising generation of Crimean Tatars is the first which in its “overwhelming majority” does not know its native language well.

            The Maarif Association of Crimean Tatar Education Workers calls on Sergey Aksyonov, the head of the Republic of Crimea to address this problem now before it becomes even worse (qha.com.ua/krimskie-tatari-byut-trevogu-v-shkolah-krima-uschemlyayut-rodnoi-yazik-147192.html).

                “Over the course of the 26 years of the return of the Crimean Tatars to their motherland [after Stalin’s deportation], a new generation has grown up,” the educators say. “This is the first generation of Crimean Tatars who in their overwhelming majority have not mastered their native language at a necessary level.”

            But instead of promoting Crimean Tatar instruction, the teachers say, the authorities are moving in the opposite direction. Over the last year alone, the number of classes in Crimean Tatar for first-year pupils on the peninsula has been reduced from 57 to 38, and the opportunities for Crimean Tatars to study their language in Russian-language schools cut as well.

            That is the case, they point out, even in areas where Crimean Tatars form a compact majority of the population.  In the Dobrovsky school of Simferopol, 70 percent of the pupils are Crimean Tatars, but they are able to study their language only in special, voluntary classes rather than as part of the regular curriculum.

            “In this school, in which the majority of pupils are Crimean Tatars,” the teachers say, “it would be possible to open every year not one but several first-year classes with Crimean Tatar as the language of instruction.”  That is what the law requires, “but this unfortunately is being decided not by the choices of parents as it should b but by the director.”

            The Maarif association says that this pattern holds in other schools across Crimea.  And they report that parents are being given forms to sign which already have written on them their supposed desire to have their children study Russian rather than Crimean Tatar. At the same time, officials say they will not offer Crimean Tatar instruction unless more want it!

            The teachers asked Aksyonov to intervene and order educational officials to obey the law as children start the 2015-2016 school year.  But he is unlikely to do so. After all, his subordinates have claimed that Crimean Tatars don’t want Crimean Tatar education, and thus there is no reason to provide it.


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