Comments by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine on the Law of Ukraine “On Education”
12 October 2017, 00:00
- The Ukrainian state is fully committed and makes every effort to ensure the development of the system of institutions that provide education in the languages of national minorities in Ukraine.
- Expansion of tuition in the state language will in no way reduce the level of knowledge and use of languages of national minorities; it is aimed at ensuring equal opportunities for all citizens of Ukraine in access to higher education, access to public services, professional development, etc. It is the duty of the state to ensure equal rights and opportunities for all citizens of Ukraine. Thus, the new Law not only does not narrow the rights of minorities and is consistent with Article 22 of the Constitution of Ukraine, since it guarantees the study of the minority languages, but rather expands the opportunities of Ukrainian citizens through proper knowledge of the state language. It also fully complies with the provisions of Article 24 of the Constitution on the prohibition of ethnic and linguistic discrimination. On the contrary, when representatives of national minorities in schools actually lacked the ability to learn the Ukrainian language, it created conditions for such discrimination and limitation of rights, given that the graduates of such schools were, de facto, deprived of equal rights to higher education.
- The Law "On Education" also provides for an increase in the level of English proficiency, which nowadays is a language of international communication, international higher education, and science.
- Adoption of the Law will not lead to the elimination of educational institutions (kindergartens, schools, universities and their departments) of national minorities, and, in particular, will not lead to dismissal of teachers. On the contrary, at the expense of the Ukrainian state, additional training and upgrading qualifications of those teachers who already teach classes in languages of national minorities will be conducted to enable them to teach their classes in the state language. In the process of introducing this modern concept of bilingual tuition of basic disciplines, such teachers are extremely valuable assets and an important resource for both the state and national minorities of Ukraine. The Ministry of Education is planning an additional financial resource to encourage such teachers to improve their skills and develop a bilingual education system.
- In the 2018 budget the Ministry of Education and Science has already allocated funds for creation of terminology dictionaries for students.
- The Law does not foresee the closure of the Hungarian Department at the Uzhgorod National University, or in any other private higher education institution. The Law does not regulate the activity of private educational institutions in Ukraine at all. Development of a network of private educational institutions in any language of tuition is welcomed and supported.
- The Law provides for the transitional period of its implementation, which, in particular, will provide for the gradual introduction of the Ukrainian-speaking cycle.
- The learning of the state language will be facilitated (but not as an infringement of languages of national minorities usage) starting from the elementary school level. It will help with students’ training to continue their education in the state language at the high school.
- Education in schools will not be exclusively in Ukrainian language, but will offer a significant number of classes in languages of national minorities. In particular, there will be language and literature of a national minority (subparagraph 6, paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law), one or more classes in one of EU languages (de facto, in many cases it will be also a language of a national minority; paragraph 4 of Article 7 of the Law). For mathematics and natural sciences, vocabularies in minority languages will be added to the program for learning terminology in two languages.
- Another Law – “On School Education” (its drafting is currently finalized) –will regulate details of implementing this concept. However, even now, the adopted Law “On Education” envisages that the Ministry of Education shall define the upper and lower limits for the number of classes that will be taught in the state language and, respectively, in languages of national minorities. The list of classes will be determined under the standard approved by the Ministry of Education with taking into consideration outcomes of consultations with interested foreign countries.
- Moreover, same teachers who now have classes in languages of national minorities, after their appropriate retraining, will carry out the actual transition to tuition in the state language.
- In coordination with communities and foreign partners within the framework of implementing the Law separate educational programs will be developed with due consideration of linguistic characteristics of each national minority.
- Considering current realities, it is of utmost importance to provide the Ukrainian language development and simultaneously comply with all international obligations of Ukraine in a manner that is not challenging in any way for the state language for the benefit of national minorities’ languages.
- The wording of Article 7 of the Law of Ukraine "On Education" is in compliance with the Constitution of Ukraine, all the international obligations of Ukraine, including the Hague Recommendations on the Rights of National Minorities to Education, as well as provisions of international bilateral documents on education in native language. Creation of conditions for the proper study of the state language corresponds to the provisions of internal and international legal acts, and guarantees that the rights of national minorities are not implemented as the infringement of the state language usage.
- Taking into account some concerns raised, Ukraine will pass on this Law for examination to the Council of Europe and is ready to hold consultations with representatives of interested countries to jointly develop a mechanism for the implementation of the new Law of Ukraine "On Education".
- Ukraine believes that national minorities serve as a bridge of friendship and close cooperation with the countries that these minorities represent. However, the role of the bridge will be inferior without the proper knowledge of the state language by the national minorities.
- The President of Ukraine signed the Law on September 25, 2017. At the same time, focusing on the issue of education, the Head of State emphasized the importance of strict observance of the rights of national minorities residing in Ukraine and requested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education to hold necessary consultations with European partners, including the Council of Europe.