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Ukrainian Educational Law - The OSCE High Commissioner for Minorities visits Transcarpathia

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Lamberto Zannier

The new Ukrainian education law must be balanced and must ensure the right of national minorities to study in their mother tongue while at the same time ensure proper level of official language education said Lamberto Zannier, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities in Ungvár after meeting with the leaders of Transcarpathia and the Ukrainian deputy foreign minister.

The High Commissioner said Ukrainian officials should consult with the ethnic communities about the new education legislation and come to an agreement with them to avoid the politicization of education.

The correct interpretation of the Education Act is based on the recommendations of the Venice Commission; on February 14, consultation will be held with ethnic Hungarian community leaders where all relevant issues will be on the table said Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Vasil Bodnar to the press.

He pointed out that the ministry of education is ready to work with OSCE officials and prepared to negotiate with the Hungarian community; a team of negotiators led by Minister of Education Lilija Hrinevich will also discuss some of the relevant issues with Budapest.

Transcarpathian Governor Hennadiy Moskal repeated his earlier statement stressing that the new Ukrainian Education Act contradicts the European Charter on Regional and Minority Languages, the Ukrainian Nationality Act, and Ukraine's international agreements with its neighbours. He emphasised the need for minority language education in elementary and high schools for national minorities that speak one of the languages ​​of the European Union.

József Barta, First Deputy Chairman of the Carpatho County Council (General Assembly), and Vice-President of the Hungarian Cultural Association of Transcarpathia stressed that ethnic Hungarians of Transcarpathia want to learn the state language, but it must be understood that Ukrainian and Hungarian belong to different language families, therefore, the methodology of teaching the state language should be altered since Hungarians can't learn Ukrainian as if it would be their mother tongue, but only as a foreign language.

He pointed out that the Transcarpathian Hungarian community should have been consulted about the education law before it was adopted and not after that. "We ask you to listen to us and support us on this issue because we have suggestions for resolving the controversy - meanwhile, we want to preserve our national identity," said József Barta.

The 7th article of the Ukrainian Education Law, which came into force at the end of September last year sparked a fierce protest by several countries, including Hungary and Romania.

The law takes effect in September 2020; it states: In Ukraine, the language of instruction is Ukrainian. Accordingly, minority language education will only be allowed in the first four grades; starting from the fifth grade most of the subjects should be taught in Ukrainian. However, the law allows to teach two or more subjects in other languages as well, including English or in other official languages of the European Union.

(MTI - hungarianambiance.com)

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