Jan 13, 2005

The status of the Crimean Tatar language and problems of instructing in the native language

Lutfi Osmanov
NGO “Revival of the Crimea”

According to Ministry of Education of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea, in 2003-2004 there are 14 establishments of general education with the Crimean Tatar language of instruction (4170 students study in 207 classes) in the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea. In 62 establishments of general educational with Russian language of instruction there are 150 classes with the Crimean Tatar language of instruction. The general number of children instructed in the Crimean Tatar language in 2003-2004 educational year constitutes 13,4 % (5988 pupils) of the total number of students of the Crimean Tatar nationality (in the previous year - 12,6 %).

Speaking about the status of the Crimean Tatar language, its studying (or instructing in it) is formally is provided according to normative documents on the rights of national minorities.
According to the European Charter on Regional or minority languages ratified by the Ukrainian parliament in May 2003, it is possible to identify the Crimean Tatar language as «radical and regional language». But, unfortunately, in the Ukrainian version of the Charter there are no particular decisions for different minority languages (till now it was made only by Croatia) - the same decisions were applied to all languages. As a basis the doubtful principle of preserving not actually languages, but «languages of national minorities of Ukraine» is taken: Belarus, Bulgarian, Gagausian, Greek, Jewish, Crimean Tatar, Moldavian, German, Polish, Russian, Romanian, Slovak and Hungarian minority. Therefore the Ukrainian Law on the Charter is not about the rights of languages, but namely about the rights of national minorities, contrary to the idea of the Charter as a legislative act of the Council of Europe. The principle of territoriality for indigenous languages of Ukraine, the Crimean Tatar language is listed among others in the Charter, is not accepted. In case of such languages other countries (for example, 3 countries of Scandinavia for Sami language, Netherlands for Frisian, Switzerland for Retoroman, and Great Britain for Welsh) have made the maximum decisions. From the point of view of linguistics and preserving such indigenous languages, for ecolinguistics it is certainly, more difficult and important than, than preserving minority languages, obviously kept by the and in the states concerned (though there are wyjatki as for example in Belarus).
In case of minority languages it is necessary to preserve the communities speaking in them. In a case of indigenous languages it is necessary to keep not a community speaking in it, but the language as a system of the communication. There is no such principle in the Ukrainian version of the Charter.
Recently schools with different statuses have appeared: schools with the Crimean Tatar language of instruction, schools with two languages of instruction (Russian and Crimean Tatar), with three languages of instruction (Ukrainian, Russian and Crimean Tatar). Though nothing determines precisely, what the status means, what are the requirements to such schools in a language context. Obviously it is impossible to accuse schools with a language of instruction for «not corresponding to the status, i. e. not carrying out the whole educational process only in the Crimean Tatar language».
It is obvious also, that the communication environment cannot exist only within the boundaries of so-called national school. The most part of the Crimean Tatars is instructed at schools with the Russian language of instruction. And most difficulties with the organization of educational process arise right here. Depending on the number of the Crimean Tatar students at these schools “classes with the advances learning of the native language» are opened, parallel groups in classes, uneven-age groups, optional studies (for very small number of pupils) are organized. Well, the whole number of those Crimean Tatar students wishing to learn the native language is satisfactory (except for Simferopol where about 40 % do not learn the native language in any form).
But still there are a number of problems: what will the other part of a class do while the Crimean Tatar students learn the native language. At the beginning any disciplines were put in a parallel. After the Crimean Tatar public had protested, only aesthetic subjects, as ones less important, were put in parallels. It would seem, the administration has found the compromising solution. But no thought was given to the position of “aesthetic subjects” teachers. If there are less important subjects, then, there are less important teachers to who may be treated accordingly.
It is only one side. The favorite argument of administration against organizing separate schools with native languages of instruction was the one that it is impossible to divide children into national apartments. In my opinion, division into classes or groups when one part of the school attends "the Crimean Tatar", and the other part, not wishing to know language of the neighbours, attends handicraft, physical education, and other «less important subjects», or repeats chemistry, mathematics, is much more dangerous.
But the main thing is that no “communication environment in the whole Crimea” is created. By the way some deputies try by virtue of their authority to promote it at the local level. Thus, session of Privetnino rural council (Kirov region) took the decision that in the territory of their community three languages (Crimean Tatar, Ukrainian, and Russian) should be equally used.
Certainly, officials above do not try to find the way out of the created situation.

The Crimean Tatars themselves together with officials of local departments on education and headmasters of schools have began to look for the way out.

Pervomay region. Three years ago in Gvardeysk school also on the initiative of the administration and with consent of the parents the experimental training on the Crimean Tatar language of non-Crimean Tatar students (for that moment of 7-th class) were started. The authors of the special course entitled it «Spoken Crimean Tatar language». We saw an open class after two years of training. Achievements of students, excellent teachers. After several seminars on studying the experience of other schools of the region and on the initiative of the department on education there was a questionnairing among about 4800 parents of non-Crimean Tatar students regarding their wish to learn the Crimean Tatar language. More than 30 % have expressed pro. It takes place despite the fact that there was no preliminary explanatory work among parents, they did not visit open classes of «spoken Crimean Tatar language», finally, there are no textbooks on «spoken Crimean Tatar language», and the program is only in the manuscript of the teacher of Pervomay school.

The Bakhchisaray region. Here the regional author's program by Abibulla Ablyamitov on studying a special course “Axiology of the Crimean Tatars. Ethnology course” has been implemented for several years. When the Crimean Tatar students study the native language, other students study bases of culture, history, religion and, certainly, language of the Crimean Tatar people. In cooperation with IDEE Foundation (Warsaw) teachers have elaborated the manual and the program for the course. Nowadays the course is taught in 70 % the regional schools.

According to the Council of Europe independent expert on minority languages, oriental studies faculty professor of Posnan University, Doctor Tomash Viherkevich, one of the most new and democratic decisions in Europe was found at Zelenogorsk school in Belogorsk region. He has never met such experience before.
It is actually a unique experience when all school students study the Crimean Tatar language (that is language of the people which according tragical circumstances turned out to in minority on the native land).
At the beginning classes with the Crimean Tatar language of instruction were organized, and then classes with the Ukrainian language of instruction. Thus, there were no problems with the curriculum at the school. But since all students are in one building it was impossible to carry out common school activities for classes with the Crimean Tatar, Ukrainian, and Russian languages separately. Certainly, they were carried out jointly. The administration of school has considered it abnormal when students do not understand each other. Supported by parents, teachers of the Crimean Tatar language have developed the program of the special course «Language of communication». It is included in the curriculum for all classes.
The regional department has supported the author's program. First this course was introduced in classes with the Ukrainian language, later - with the Russian language of instruction.
Now the course is introduced to the curriculum of Litvinenko school in Belogorsk region, school #1 in Kirovskoe settlement and other schools.

Examples of non-Crimean Tatar students studying the Crimean Tatar language are present practically in each area.

Thus, while above the big politicians think of the status of the Crimean Tatar language, it actually becomes obligatory for studying in regions. And not on compulsorily, but free-willingly.
On one hand, such experience shows that due to teachers-enthusiasts and support of education departments it was possible to create favorable circumstances for decision-making with a view to determining the status of the Crimean Tatar language officially. At the same time, it is obvious, that if, for example, in Pervomaisk area this interrogation were carried out by any public men results could be a little bit different. If the Bakhchsarai department of education did not «recommend the author's course on ethnography to regional schools» probably only a couple of schools would take up the course.

New curricula practically do not take into account specificity of the Crimea. They are compiled being based on the fact that in Ukraine there are schools with the Ukrainian language of instruction recognizing that in which the minority languages can be taught. Hours are stipulated accordingly. But the most numerous national minority in the Crimea are Russians, and the second language which will "take away" the greatest number of hours in curricula will be Russian accordingly. Thus, there will be a reduction of hours of the Crimean Tatar language.
What can be done in such situation? The answer to this question is given by officials of education departments.
During last year the Council of representatives of the Crimean Tatar people supported by the European Commission and in cooperation with the Ministry of Education has carried out seminars on «Development of the Crimean Tatar language instruction in regions». The idea of introducing the Crimean Tatar language to curricula is considered naturally in all regions. But such decision should be taken at the level of the Ministry of Education of Ukraine.

Again briefly about the situation taking place.
Studying of the native language at institutions of general education of the Crimea is implemented according to the curricula approved annually by the board of the Ministry of Education of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea.
Regulations and recommendations of the Explanatory note to Standard curricula of institution of general education approved by the decree of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine apply to all curricula of institutions of general education of the Crimea.
At the same time the Ministry of Education of the Crimea brings in a range of alterations and additions agreed with the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine.
1. Choice of language of instruction is made taking into account requests of parents (or persons substituting them) in the presence of corresponding educational-methodical and staff provisions and is approved by the teachers board no later than 15 June of the current year.
2. Classes with the Crimean Tatar language in schools may be opened by request of parents (according to written statement) and in presence of no less than 8 students.
3. While carrying out classes of native language and literature in schools and classes with other language of instruction, the elementary students not studying the native language have additional classes of Russian language, those senior students – classes on aesthetics and handicraft.
4. Classes of native language and literature and additional classes are to be included in curricula parallel that will allow to avoid the situation when the native language is studied only on first and last lessons.

Conclusions and recommendations:
- To enlarge the number of hours for studying the native language to 4 classes in week at least.
- To transfer the native language course from the optional part of the curriculum to the obligatory part (studying of the language must be obligatory).
- To use the optional studies hours for studying the special courses on the Crimean Tatar language by all students.

Normative-legal acts,
regulating safeguarding the rights of citizens
on receiving education in the native language.
1. The Framework Convention of the Council of Europe on Protection of National Minorities of 01.02.1995, ratified by Ukraine on 09.12.1997. (point 1 of article 5 of the Convention).
2. Agreements on the issues connected with restoration of rights of deportees, national minorities and peoples of 09.10.1992. and ratified by Ukraine on 17.12.1993. (article 1).
3. The Convention on safeguarding the rights of persons belonging to national minorities of 21.10.1994?. (article 10 item "a ").
4. The Constitution of Ukraine (articles 10, 11, 24 p.2, 53 p.5, 138 p. 8).
5. The Decree of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine of 14.12.1999. #10/99 (item 2).
6. The Law of Ukrainian SSR «on languages in Ukraine ».
7. The Law of Ukraine «on general secondary education» (article 7).
8. The Law of Ukraine «on preschool education» (article 7).
9. The Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea (articles 10, 14).
10. The Decree of the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea of 27.08.1997. #260 «on the program of development of a network of general educational institutions, classes with Ukrainian, Crimean Tatar languages of instruction, schools and classes with two languages of instruction».
11. The Decree of the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea of 22.05.2001. #187 «on top-priority actions on developing a network of schools (classes) with the Crimean Tatar language of instruction in 2001-2002».
12. Decisions of Board of the Ministry of Education of the Autonomous republic of the Crimea of 25.02.2000., of 20.02.2001., of 14.03.2002?.
13. The law of Ukraine on ratification of the European Charter of regional and minority language of 15.05.2003.