UWC Calls Upon Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada to Reject the Review of the Anti-Constitutional Draft Law on the Language of Instruction in Preschools
February 6, 2012
UKRAINIAN WORLD CONGRESS CALLS UPON UKRAINE’S VERKHOVNA RADA
TO REJECT THE REVIEW OF THE ANTI-CONSTITUTIONAL DRAFT LAW
ON THE LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION IN PRE-SCHOOLS
The Ukrainian World Congress has serious concerns regarding the Draft Law “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine ‘On Pre-school Education’” (specifically on instruction in the native language), tabled in January 2012 by the Party of Regions.
The key points of this Draft Law, which is almost an exact copy of the draft previously tabled by the Minister of Education, Dmytro Tabachnyk, and rejected by Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, are as follows:
In order to satisfy the national, cultural-educational and language needs of citizens, pre-schools are to be established offering instruction in regional languages or minority languages. The right to choose the language of instruction remains with the parent.
Separate groups may be established in pre-schools for instruction in regional languages or minority languages.
The Ukrainian World Congress emphasizes that the proposed amendments would have an extremely detrimental effect since they essentially represent yet another attempt by pro-government forces to enshrine in law the elevation of the Russian language to the status of a State language in contravention of article 10 of the Constitution of Ukraine, which states that the State language of Ukraine is the Ukrainian language.
The attempts to downgrade the Ukrainian language from its status as Ukraine’s only State language has become a topic of discussion within various high-level international organizations. Specifically, in December 2010, the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Knut Vollebaek, sent the Chairman of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada his assessment of one of the previous draft laws on the language issue as prepared by the Party of Regions (Draft Law “On Languages in Ukraine”) in which, among other things, he expressed the following concerns:
10. […] it is important to note that any weakening of the State or official language(s) runs contrary to the spirit of the ECRML [European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages]. The protection and promotion of regional and minority languages should not be at the expense of the State or official language(s). Similarly, this is also expressed in Articles 5(2) and 14(3) of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) concerning general integration policies and education respectively.
13. The State language can be an effective tool in ensuring cohesion. Consequently, promoting the use of the State language constitutes a legitimate State interest. Moreover, knowledge of the State language is also beneficial to persons belonging to national minorities. Having a command of the State language increases the opportunities for effective participation in society at all levels. This requires that persons belonging to national minorities are given and make use of the opportunity to learn the State language. All members of society, including persons belonging to national minorities, may be expected to use the State language in certain communicative situations in the public domain, as specified by law. To put it differently, there is no right of persons belonging to national minorities never to be expected to use the State language. As the ECRML explicitly states: “the protection and encouragement of regional or minority languages should not be to the detriment of the official languages and the need to learn them”.
“The Ukrainian World Congress calls upon the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to reject the review of the anti-constitutional Draft Law “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine ‘On Pre-school Education’” (with respect to education in the native language) because this would pose a serious threat to the development of the Ukrainian language as the official State language,” said Ukrainian World Congress President Eugene Czolij.