PACE: Ukraine’s education law doesn’t ensure balance between state and minority languages

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The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe indicates that the provisions of the Ukrainian law “On Education” do not ensure a balance between the official language and the languages of national minorities and recommends that Ukraine should fully comply with the forthcoming conclusions of the Venice Commission and modify this document accordingly.

On Oct. 12, an urgent debate took place in Strasbourg regarding the Law on Education, adopted in Ukraine, in particular on Article 7 concerning the language of teaching, which resulted in the adoption of a resolution with recommendations for Ukraine.

According to the results of the vote, out of a total 110 delegates, who took part in the vote, 82 delegates of the PACE supported the document, 11 voted against it, 17 abstained.

In particular, the Parliamentary Assembly is seriously concerned about the adoption on Sept. 5 of a new law “On Education” by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and its signing by President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko on Sept. 27. According to it, the law does not ensure the right of ethnic minorities to study in their native language and significantly reduces their rights.

PACE also requests that the conclusions of the Venice Commission be fully implemented.

In addition, the Assembly deplores the fact that there was no real consultation with representatives of national minorities in Ukraine on the new version of Article 7 of the law.

PACE believes the new law ‘do not appear to strike an appropriate balance between the official language and the languages of national minorities’ not encompass the concept of ‘living together’, the new legislation does not comply with the principle of ‘living together’, which underpins Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

“These national minorities, who were previously entitled to have monolingual schools and fully fledged curricula in their own language, now find themselves in a situation where education in their own languages can be provided (along with education in Ukrainian) only until the end of primary education. For the Assembly, this is not conducive to ‘living together’,” PACE said

The Assembly recommends that Ukraine examines best practice in Council of Europe Member States in the field of teaching official languages, with special learning methods designed for schools using regional or minority languages as the language of education.

The Assembly believes that it is important to fulfill the commitments based on the European Convention on Human Rights, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, and to help re-establish a constructive dialogue between the different parties concerned.

“Where States take measures to promote the official language, these must go hand in hand with measures to protect and promote the languages of national minorities. If this is not done, the result will be assimilation, not integration,” the document reads.

In addition, the Assembly recommends ensuring flexibility in the implementation of the reform.

The rapporteur on this issue was a member of the delegation of Estonia, a member of the PACE Committee on Culture, Andres Herkel.

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