Use of Hungarian Minority Symbols Denied at High School in Mukachevo, Ukraine

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The newly-appointed head of the II. Ferenc Rákóczi Hungarian Language High School in Mukachevo (Munkács), Marija Pauk, denied the use of Hungarian national symbols, as well as singing of the national anthem, during the school year’s opening ceremony on September 1. Though all are permitted by law, there was no display of the Hungarian flag or colors, and the principal’s welcome speech was in Ukrainian, contrary to decades of practice.

On it’s Facebook page, the school reported the developments following Marija Pauk’s appointment: “During our union meeting, the newly-appointed principal and vice principal indicated that their short-term goal is the Ukrainianization of the school. This includes teaching Hungarian as a foreign language, starting Ukrainian first grade classes from this September, and conducting some subjects in Ukrainian.” Neither head of school knows Hungarian.

The post then mentions that due to parental protests and the unified stance of the school’s teaching staff, the two reversed their position. Hence, there won’t be a new Ukrainian-language class starting this year, and Hungarian will remain the language of instruction. However, as the post put it: “We see that the city administration’s plan includes the prompt discontinuation of Hungarian education in our school.” It’s not only ethnic Hungarians who enroll their children in the school.

The statement issued by the Cultural Alliance of Hungarians in Sub-Carpathia’s (KMKSZ) – which represents the interests of the 150,000-strong minority – regrets that the ongoing developments at the Grades 1-12 teaching institution further diminish the prospects for continuing quality Hungarian-language education in the city.

“We find it outrageous that, following the unjustified dismissal of the school’s former principal, the newly appointed director by the Mukachevo City Council did not allow the use of Hungarian national symbols at the opening ceremony of the school year, even though it does not contradict any legal regulations and has been an accepted practice in minority-language educational institutions since Ukraine’s independence. We believe that the anti-Hungarian actions pursued by the Mukachevo city administration may stir ethnic tensions, which do not serve the interests of either the Sub-Carpathian community or Ukraine” [emphasis added].

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