The Forced Assimilation of Russians – The Main Task of “Orange” Education

Teaching children in a non-native language reduced the intellectual and mental development of the child by 15-30%.

The decline in the number of Russian schools that started under Kuchma accelerated under Yushchenko.

If in 1990 there were 4,633 schools in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, where Russian was the only language of instruction, by 2007 the number had decreased almost threefold. In five regions there is not a single Russian school left, and in four regions there is only one! In 16 western and central regions of Ukraine in 2007 there were only 26 Russian schools, or 0.2% (!) of the total number of schools in these regions.

In Ivano-Frankovsk, since 2004 communication even at break time was allowed only in the state language, and in 2009, the orange Prime Minister Tymoshenko signed a decree that required Ukrainian language to be constantly used in Ukrainian schools during working hours.

As for the predominantly great Russian and fully Russian-speaking Donbass, the orange government planned to increase the proportion of kindergartens that taught in the Ukrainian language to 81%, universities and schools – to 78%, and boarding and vocational schools – to 100% by the end of Yushchenko’s tenure.

From the 324 schools in Russian-speaking Kiev, as of 2007, there were only 7 Russian ones (in 1990 there were 155!), and 17 more schools had classes in the Russian language. And this is in a city where 600,000 people (24%) recognised Russian as their native language. “Thus, only 1.5% of residents of the capital of Ukraine can fully meet their needs for education in their native language,” it says in the “Public Report on the Implementation of the European Charter on Regional or Minority Languages”, prepared by people’s deputy Vadim Kolesnichenko and expert Ruslan Bortnik. “The rights and interests of other Kiev citizens are grossly violated by officials, who make administrative decisions to reduce the number of schools with the Russian language of teaching… Parents’ wishes are most often ignored”.

Doctor of Philological Sciences and President of the Ukrainian Association of Teachers of Russian Language and Literature L.A. Kudryavtseva, commenting on the situation, pointed out: according to UNESCO estimates, teaching children in a non-native language reduces the intellectual and mental development of the child by 15-30%. … “Do we need to build a state where half of the population whose native language is Russian and half of our children will be intellectual and mentally behind Ukrainian-speaking children?” asked Kudryavtseva. No one listened to her question.

The rights of Russian and Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine were violated not only in violation of the Constitution and the laws “On Languages” and “On Education”. They all guaranteed Russian “national minority” teaching in their native language.

In administrative procedure, the number of hours spent on Russian literature in Russian-speaking schools was significantly reduced, and in most Ukrainian schools Russian literature was moved to the foreign language courses and translated into Ukrainian.

The number of hours spent teaching the Russian language were also reduced, while 47.4% of citizens of Ukraine advocated teaching Russian in schools in the same amount as Ukrainian, 28% advocated teaching Russian in a greater proportion than foreign languages, and only 19.9% advocated a number of hours that is less than what is spent teaching foreign languages.

In general, this data was confirmed by a 2009 study in which the majority of the population supported the compulsory study of Russian language and literature in school.

However, as early as 2005, the orange-controlled Parliamentary Committee on Science and Education recommended that graduates of schools that teach in the Russian language be prohibited from taking university entrance examinations in Russian. This is what was done. “It is possible to assume that universities can lose a huge number of potentially talented students,” warned Professor Kudryavtseva (before the orange revolution about 80% of applicants from eastern and southern Ukraine did entrance tests in the Russian language).

However, this was not enough. In 2008, the Ministry of Education and Science issued Order No. 461 on the introduction of mandatory external testing of all school graduates in Ukrainian from 2010. And as mandatory tests for future physicists or, say, bridge builders there was an assessment on such a repository of knowledge as mainly rural Ukrainian literature.

According to Minister of Education Vakarchuk, conducting an external independent assessment in Russian “contradicts the Constitution” (sic!). In fact, the situation recorded by the 2009 sociological survey should have been urgently corrected.

In 2009 and 2010, Russian philology disappeared from the orders of the Ministry of Education on external testing. “Access to the specialty ‘Russian philology’ is becoming more difficult (despite the fact that all over the world it is going through a renaissance),” said the Association of Teachers of Russian Language and Literature. “This specialty is not yet closed in universities, but those who enter it do only a test of loyalty, not the knowledge of the subject – they are only tested in the Ukrainian language and history of Ukraine. It’s like saying: if you know the Ukrainian language and history of Ukraine, then you can have the right to study Russian language and literature”.

The Vice Prime Minister of the previous government, Dmitry Tabachnik, tried to explain the phenomenon of Minister Vakarchuk and his ilk: “The presidential ‘humanists’ are called upon to affirm the nationalist myths produced by Trypillia’s mind… Of course, the Galician ‘crusaders’ play a leading role in the destruction of what was created over the centuries. Among which the Minister of Education Mr Vakarchuk takes a special honorary place… It is indicative that textbooks for Russian schools in general (!) are not considered at the tender committee, and textbooks in the Russian language for Ukrainian schools are printed in less than half of the necessary number”. However, this was the case in the 2005-2006 academic year, when, according to Kudryavtseva, “no kopeks were allocated, and there was no state order for the publication of textbooks in the Russian language.”

As for university books in Russian, they had to be delivered to Ukraine almost by smuggling. Even written in Ukraine, but published where they were demanded by the local education system. For example, the famous “Dictionary of Connotative Proper Names” by the distinguished professor E.S. Otin.

“Let us say frankly: a cold civil war has been successfully waged against us, Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine, and with the use of all the power of state structures for two decades,” wrote the former representative of Ukraine to the Committee of the Council of Europe and Deputy of previous convocations of the Verkhovna Rada Vladimir Alekseyev following the results of the orange five-year plan. “Our ethnic group was deprived of the right to visit cinemas showing films in our native language, suffocating language restrictions for the TV and radio space (Even ‘Russian Radio’ was forced to broadcast in Ukrainian) were introduced, secondary education in Russian is being systematically destroyed, in fact, it was succeeded to eliminate higher education in the Russian language. In the latter case, not just the elimination of Russian-speaking education is clearly seen, but the deeper goal is to stop the reproduction of Russian-speaking intellectuals. In fact, a process of the de-intellectual and marginalisation of the Russian-speaking group, which makes up at least half of the population of the state, has been initiated…. We have already been given a choice: either forced assimilation or existence in a virtual Russian-speaking ghetto.”

Dmitry Skvortsov (Fond strategicheskoy kultury)

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