Staunton, July 19 – Last week, scholars, experts and activists from Tatarstan met in Kazan to discuss the sad state of Tatar-language instruction at present and the threats to it that will arise if Vladimir Putin’s proposal to make the study of all non-Russian languages voluntary while keeping instruction in Tatar mandatory.
(For discussions of that meeting, see and
“At the present time, the training of pedagogical staff who speak their native language has been stopped even in Tatarstan itself, and only 7% of Tatar children study their mother tongue at schools in other regions of the Russian Federation, where more than two-thirds of the Tatars of Russia live.
“Training of pedagogical staff for the ethnic schools and teachers of the Tatar language in the regions of Russia was ended in 2000. Under these conditions, the actions of the federal authorities … deprives the peoples of Russia … of the opportunity to receive higher education in their native languages, and the absence of training of pedagogical personnel who speak their native language leads to the elimination of education in the local native languages.
“Participants of the Interregional Scientific-Practical Conference condemn attempts to introduce unconstitutional principles in the spheres of education in the native languages and teaching of native languages based on the ranking of languages and peoples.”
To prevent the situation from deteriorating further, they call on the Duma to amend the draft law on languages so that all legal documents will be published in the non-Russian languages as well as in Russian, that all children who want to do so can study in it through the secondary level, and to require residents in the republics to learn the language of the titular nation.
The participants at the meeting urge the Russian education ministry to restore the Department of Regional Education in the ministry, to develop programs and prefer textbooks for instruction in non-Russian languages, to support the training of teachers who know these languages and can carry out instruction of and in them, and to abolish rules requiring final examinations in secondary schools be conducted only in Russian.
The meeting also called on the Tatarstan government to establish a Tatar National University, to restore the Institute of Regional Education, and to resume the training of Tatar-language teachers for all levels of the educational system.
Update July 20 -- The Duma has signaled that it will not take into consideration the appeal of the Tatar experts --