Staunton, Oct. 22 – Kakhramon Kuranbayev, an advisor to the president of Uzbekistan, says that Tashkent has asked Moscow for assistance in opening Uzbek-language schools and kindergartens in the Russian Federation because the children of Uzbek immigrant workers there often have difficulty getting an education.
The proposal, reported at kommersant.ru/doc/6283598, has sparked outrage among many Russian commentators who point out that Russia doesn’t have ethnically defined schools and does maintain schools to teach the children of immigrants who do not know Russian well (e.g., forum-msk.org/material/news/18217778.html and tsargrad.tv/news/diaspora-oplatit-rossii-predlozhili-otkryt-detsady-i-shkoly-dlja-migrantov_891288).
It is unlikely that the Uzbek proposal will go anywhere, but it is a remarkable turnabout in the former Soviet space. Non-Russian republics have long had to maintain Russian-language schools for Russians and non-Russians who know Russian, but it is striking that now one of them, Uzbekistan, wants schools in Russia to support its national language.
At the very least, this is likely to add fuel to the fire about support for and the survival of non-Russian languages both among migrants and indigenous peoples. It could even lead some of the latter to try to piggyback on the idea and use schools for Turkic immigrants to help support their own Turkic languages.