On January 16, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted a law regulating secondary education, which also applies to the Hungarian minority. “Ukrainian authorities lack the political will to comprehend that they have taken away crucial minority rights and, for Hungarians in Subcarpathia, the 150-year-old right to education in their mother tongue,” said Ildikó Orosz, President of the Hungarian Teachers’ Association of Subcarpathia (KMPSZ) following a meeting with the Ukrainian Education Minister. The vote was 327 Yeas, 3 Nays, 54 abstentions and 16 no votes, in the 450-member legislature.
The European Commission will also take into account the position of national minorities when assessing whether Ukrainian legislation – including laws adopted in the framework of education reform – complies with European values, said Olivér Várhelyi, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy, at a press conference held jointly with Ukrainian Prime Minister Olekszij Honcsaruk.
According to a press release issued by the Ministry of Education, the language article of the Act was drawn up after consultation with representatives of national minorities and followed recommendations made by the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe. Among other things, the adopted law contains three models for instruction of the Ukrainian language in secondary-level minority language schools. The law also classifies minorities living in Ukraine into three categories and proscribes the education they are entitled to, accordingly.
The first is the so-called natives, which primarily refers to Crimean Tatars, those who do not have their own state and their language is particularly in need of protection and development. For them, the law provides education in the mother tongue, alongside the Ukrainian language, from the first to the twelfth grade.
The second group includes minorities whose native language is an official language of the European Union. This applies to the ethnic Hungarian minority. They are provided with education in their mother tongue only until the fifth grade. Beginning in the fifth grade, however, at least 20 percent of the annual number of lessons per year must be taught in Ukrainian so that by the end of ninth grade, this proportion reaches 40 percent of subjects and at least 60 percent in the upper grades.
The third model was developed for the rest of the speakers of the Ukrainian language, primarily Russian speakers. They are also provided with education in their mother tongue until the fifth grade. However, beginning in the fifth grade and subsequent upper grades, at least 80 percent of lessons have to be translated to Ukrainian.