Tatar teachers' expectations: ''These lawmakers put their ethnic component on the back burner''

Teachers accuse parliamentarians of having preferred political survival to national pride

Tatar teachers' expectations: ''These lawmakers put their ethnic component on the back burner'' Photo: Maksim Platonov

The 7 th All-Russian Congress of Tatar Language and Literature Teachers ended in Tatarstan on 10 July. The plenary session, which was in Kazan, didn't have surprises. The concern about Tukay and Jalil's language, its teaching, new approaches are standing topics that repeat every time at such forums. However, this year, a debatable bill about voluntary mother tongue classes, which is considered in the State Duma, has added zest. Realnoe Vremya tells about the state of affairs in Russian regions, which some participants told deputies off for and what solutions Moscow offers.

Samara Oblast: number of Tatar schools reduces

The 7 th All-Russian Congress of Tatar Language and Literature Teachers took place in Tatarstan. About 700 teachers from 30 regions of Russia participated in it. There are also guests from Kazakhstan. The forum's events began in Kukmor on 9 July and continued in Kazan on 10 July. It goes without saying the most painful question that concerns the delegates is about the bill on voluntary mother tongue classes considered in the State Duma. We should remind after Russian President Vladimir Putin's statements about the necessity to comply with the voluntary principle of learning national languages a discussion about the volume of the presence of the Tatar language in Tatarstan school educational plans broke out. Analogous serious debates arose in Bashkiria and in other regions to a lesser degree.

Nevertheless, teachers themselves unwillingly agreed to talk with journalists. As it should be, they are indignant because mother tongue classes in the republic are taken out of the programme of compulsory subjects. The situation hasn't almost changed in 'not national' regions, in turn.

As director Yaktylyk school in Samara Oblast Radik Gazizov told Realnoe Vremya, his educational establishment is specialised in learning the Tatar language, literature and culture. No Tatar teacher has been dismissed, the number of hours has remained the same.

As director Yaktylyk school in Samara Oblast Radik Gazizov told Realnoe Vremya, his educational establishment is specialised in learning the Tatar language, literature and culture

''The Tatar language still remains in the compulsory programme in Samara Oblast. The timetable has hours for this subject. This is why we don't have such a problem,'' noted Radik Gazizov.

Samara has only one Tatar school. About 10 establishments of this kind have remained in Samara Oblast. At the same time, the director of Yaktylyk paid attention that the number of such schools was gradually reducing. The reason is banal: the majority of them are located in the countryside where there are fewer young people.

Chuvashia: Regional Culture instead of Chuvash language

As for the famous bill, Chairman of the Regional National Cultural Autonomy of the Tatars in Chuvashia, member of Milli Shura Farit Gibatdinov thinks ''the federal consciousness must win'': all peoples of Russia favour the country's development.

''Our Constitution guarantees the people's equal rights. Law shouldn't infringe upon ethnicities. I hope everything will return to normal soon and be as it was,'' Gibatdinov shared his thoughts with our online newspaper's correspondent.

He also mentioned Tatarstan deputies of the State Duma who are Tatars who voted for the bill in the first reading.

''These lawmakers put their ethnic component on the back burner. Here, unfortunately, political survival turned on: they belong to the party,'' the delegate from the neighbouring republic complained.

As for the famous bill, Chairman of the Regional National Cultural Autonomy of the Tatars in Chuvashia, member of Milli Shura Farit Gibatdinov thinks ''the federal consciousness must win''

By the way, the Tatar language learning in specialised schools in Chuvashia has remained at the previous level (5 hours a week). The linguistic situation is worse in the major nation of the republic. The Chuvash language, Gibatdinov says, stopped being taught. A new subject – Regional Culture – has been introduced instead.

Moscow 'fire extinguisher'

A speech of Tatarstan State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin was planned at the plenary session of the congress, which was in Korston hotel on 10 July. However, the speaker of the regional parliament didn't honour the forum participants with his attention. Tatarstan Education Minister Rafis Burganov, Vice-Premier of the Republic of Tatarstan, Chairman of Milli Shura National Council Vasil Shaikhraziyev and head of the Tatarstan State Council's Committee on Education, Culture, Science and National Affairs Razil Valeyev had to take the floor.

Director of the Department of State Policy in General Education of the Russian Ministry of Education Andrey Petrov was sent to Kazan as a 'fire extinguisher'. The functionary from Moscow tried to calm the people down with general phrases.

''There is some concern,'' Petrov started his speech. ''But the work on the bill is carried out carefully. There will be made amendments in the second hearing. In the ministry, we've created a working group including scientists, representatives of education administrations of the main regions where mother tongue teaching traditions are strong. We carefully follow how your work is done on the spot.''

He offered to make general decisions ''together, discussing, without allowing to go too far.''

Director of the Department of State Policy in General Education of the Russian Ministry of Education Andrey Petrov was sent to Kazan as a 'fire extinguisher'

''In our working group that provides mother tongue classes, we start to work on the creation of a concept to teach mother tongues at secondary school. I'm sure the All-Russian Association of Mother Tongue Teachers should also be created. We have many common problems, you have a unique experience you should certainly share,'' Olga Vasilyeva's representative told.

Hoping for second hearing

Vasil Shaikhraziyev added the Ministry of Education and regional leaders always listen to teachers' expectations by giving a helping hand. At the same time, he agreed it's necessary to unite efforts to solve the problems. Then he switched to another topic.

''We've done a lot,'' the speaker stated. ''The most important thing is not to lose what we did. And we need to introduce new practices, new technologies to teach the Tatar language. We must orient to tomorrow.''

Razil Valeyev returned to the debatable bill.

''We've discussed this issue in the Tatarstan State Council,'' the Tatarstan parliamentarian said. ''And you've probably heard we turned to the State Duma before the official approval of the bill. We clearly said this law couldn't be adopted. And even after its adoption in the first hearing, we gathered again and sent a demand to the State Duma for consideration not to adopt the law in the way it is.''

Razil Valeyev returned to the debatable bill

Ending his speech, Valeyev reminded Tatarstan had two official languages in Tatarstan – Russian and Tatar. According to him, the region doesn't have problems with learning Russian. And an official language can't be chosen by parents voluntarily.

By the way, the clause on the bill also was in the congress' resolution. According to the documents, the forum's participants hope the offered amendments will give a possibility to get an education in mother tongues and study the Tatar language 'at school in the compulsory part of educational plans''. Such an approach is offered to be fixed in educational standards and programmes.

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By Timur Rakhmatullin, Albina Gataullina. Photo: Maksim Platonov
Tatarstan