Russian for Tatars
The 6th June 2012, marked the official Russian Language Day which in Kazan saw another wave of conflict between the regional authorities and the Russian Culture Assembly, a non-government organisation which claimed that Tatarstan violated the federal education law by reducing the number of classes in secondary schools on the Russian language.
The members of the assembly have come out to the streets several times since 2011 (the last protest rally took place on the 21st April, 2012) to demand that the Russian language is taught at the regional schools in full volume according to the terms of the federal law. The activists claim that the National Curriculum on Russian is not properly taught in Tatarstan and the republic’s school program which is set by the federal standards is tailored in favor of the Tatar language so that the schoolchildren get 700 hours of Russian instead of the 1200 under the law. “As a result, the school graduates fail to compete with children from other regions while passing entrance exams to Universities or Institutes”, Boris Begaev, the Kazan Civil Union Chair, told Kommersant in April 2012.
The Tatarstan Minister of Education Albert Gilmutdinov, in his turn, appealed to the educational standard of the Russian Federation, which determines the special teaching programs for the regions with a bilingual system. The Tatarstan Constitution proclaims two official languages in the republic: Tatar and Russian. Gilmutdinov also proudly displays the upward trend in the results of the National State Exam on Russian showed by Tatarstan schoolchildren within several years. “The progress rates of the Russian language exam results in Tatarstan are incredible. We have already overtaken other federal regions in this case”, stated the Minister during his press conference on the 5th June 2012.
Apparently, the teachers in Tatarstan are applying the latest educational l-techniques that enable their schoolchildren to develope, for instance, 62.2 points against 59.6 exam points in the Arkhangelsk region, having nearly twice as less classes on the Russian language (3 compared with 8 in Arkhangelsk). This data was presented by Albert Gilmutdinov.
However, the Russian Culture Assembly Chair Michail Scheglov in his interview to Kommersant on the 5th June 2012 revealed the fact that, when the National State Exam was first introduced the number of exam failures in Tatarstan exceeded the average level by 2.3 times, still the following year the situation was dramatically trimmed to quite the opposite. Scheglov compared such “fantastic” progress in the state exam points with the presidential election results. He also admitted that the federal standard, which Albert Gilmutdinov appealed to, concerns the national schools where the subjects are taught in the national languages and thus can not be applied to the Tatarstan secondary schools except the Tatar schools where the curriculum is set in Tatar.
The experts consider the Russian Culture Assembly demands sustainable and so far the Tatar regional authorities have not taken the measures to meet the demands of the Russian Culture Assembly. This obviously is the kernel of the conflict, which nonetheless “does not have profound antagonism and cannot turn into serious confrontations” according to Rafail Khakimov, Head of History Institute at Tatarstan Academy of Sciences.
Photo courtesy of kazanpress.ru