Am 5. September 2017 hat die Werchowna Rada das neue Bildungsgesetz verabschiedet, dessen Artikel 7 sofort zu einer der umstrittensten Bestimmungen geworden ist. Ihm zufolge sollen ab 2020 in der Ukraine alle Schüler ab der fünften Klasse ausschließlich auf Ukrainisch unterrichtet werden. Für Kinder aus Minderheiten besteht dabei die Möglichkeit, in Vorschulbildungseinrichtungen und der Grundschule in ihrer Sprache unterrichtet zu werden. In weiterführenden Schulen können sie die Sprache ihrer Nationalität nur noch im Fachunterricht erlernen. In anderen Fächern ist Unterricht in einer Minderheitensprache nur noch gestattet, wenn es sich bei dieser um eine der Sprachen der Europäischen Union handelt. Die nationalen Minderheiten dürfen eigene Schuleinrichtungen gründen und verwalten, die aus nationalen und internationalen Quellen finanziert werden können.Das neue Bildungsgesetz hat heftige Kritik in den Ländern hervorgerufen, aus denen relativ große Minderheiten in der Ukraine leben. Vor allem Ungarn hat das Gesetz als »Dolchstoß« stark verurteilt und sogar gedroht, die europäische Integration der Ukraine zu blockieren. Ein Warnsignal ist aber auch aus dem Europarat zu hören. In einem Kommentar hat Thorbjørn Jagland, Generalsekretär des Europarates, das neue Bildungsgesetz der Ukraine einen »Drahtseilakt« genannt. Als Reaktion auf die Kritik hat die Ukraine das Gesetz dem Europarat zur Begutachtung durch Experten vorgelegt.Im Folgenden dokumentieren wir die Position der Ukraine und internationale Kritik an dem Bildungsgesetz vom 5. September 2017. Im Anschluss daran finden Sie einen statistischen Überblick über die Unterrichtssprachen in den ukrainischen Schulen.
Die Redaktion der Ukraine-Analysen
Außenministerium der Ukraine
Statement on the Law of Ukraine “On Education” (29.09.2017; Auszüge)
As delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna, to the 1157th meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, 28 September 2017
(…) Mr. Chairperson,
In our statement today we would like to present additional clarifications and dispel the myths which also emerged today around the adopted legislation.
Reform of Ukraine’s education system is an important part of the large-scale reform process in the country. On 5 September 2017 the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine adopted the Law of Ukraine “On Education” which was signed by the President of Ukraine on 25 September 2017.
When elaborating and adopting the new Law the Ukrainian authorities and legislators have taken full account of Ukraine’s obligations and commitments under respective international instruments, including the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. Notably, these instruments underline that the right to maintain the collective identity through the minority language must be balanced by the responsibility to integrate and participate in the wider national society through the acquisition of a sound knowledge of both that society and the State language.
The new Law specifies that the human right to education may be exercised through obtaining it at different levels of education, in various ways and forms, including pre-school, comprehensive, extracurricular, vocational, higher education and adult (continuing) education.
Whereas the Law is a complex document transforming the educational system in the country, the expressed concerns of some states refer to its one article.
Article 7 of the Law stipulates that the language of the educational process in Ukraine is the official language of the State. The very same Article of the Law clearly ensures the right of national minorities in Ukraine to maintain their collective identity through the medium of their mother tongue at primary and secondary levels of education.
I wish to offer a quotation of the respective provision of the Law:
“Persons belonging to national minorities of Ukraine are guaranteed the right on education in municipal educational institutions of pre-school and primary education in the language of the national minority they belong to and in the official language of the State.”
In this light we wish to recall the view expressed in OSCE HCNM’s recommendations on education: “The first years of education are of pivotal importance in a child’s development. …Pre-school and kindergarten levels should ideally be the child’s language”. Moreover, it was maintained that “in primary school the curriculum should ideally be taught in the minority language” with a few practical and theoretical subjects taught in the State language towards the end of that period. Thus, while there are no specific international obligations on ensuring such ideal educational medium for children belonging to national minorities, it is provided for in the Ukrainian Law in question. My distinguished colleagues would certainly take a note that whereas the HCNM’s recommendations refer to gradual increase of instruction in the State language already in the primary, Ukraine’s Law provides for education in the language of the national minority throughout the primary school.
At the secondary level of education, apart from teaching of the national minority language and literature, one or more subjects can be taught in the languages of the European Union. Studies of a number of subjects, in particular mathematics, will be accompanied by the use of vocabularies enabling to learn the respective terminology in the minority language.
While the reform is introduced from 1 September 2018, a transitional period is foreseen for children who now receive education in the language of national minorities until 1 September 2020 with gradual increase of the subjects in the State language.
On top of the above we wish to point out that the Law envisages a possibility for national minorities to establish and manage their own educational institutions funded from both national and international sources. This is an additional important opportunity that can be exercised by interested persons belonging to national minorities.
Ukraine will forward the respective parts of the Law to the Council of Europe for opinion.
The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities maintained in the respective recommendations that States are obliged to guarantee equal opportunities for everyone, regardless of whether they belong to majorities or minorities, to participate in the economic, social, cultural and political life of the society. In this context importance is attached to avoiding segregation in education, even if self-induced by minority communities, while fully respecting the educational rights of persons belonging to minorities.
The objectives of equal opportunities of all members of the Ukrainian society form the basis of the newly adopted Law “On Education”. The considerations took account of the assessments of steadily dropping level of secondary education among children receiving instruction in the language of national minorities. For instance, in 2016 over 36% of school graduates in Zakarpattya region scored 1 to 3 grades in the Ukrainian language on the 12 grade scale. In particular, in Beregove district of that region, which is densely populated by the Hungarian national minority, 75% of school graduates scored 1 to 3 grades in the Ukrainian language on the 12 grade scale. In 2016, in total 60,1% of children belonging to Hungarian and Romanian national minorities did not pass the threshold of testing in the State language.
The reform of the education system in Ukraine will improve the quality of education, open up further prospects for continuous education, enhance equality of opportunities, foster competitiveness of the young people in the labour market and employment, including in the public sector. The possibilities for the young people, including from national minorities, to fully realize their potential and aspirations will be significantly broadened.
I would like to make some remarks specifically in response to the statement of the Russian delegation which contained numerous distortions. In terms of respect for rights of national minorities the Russian Federation is a special case deriving from the policies and practices of enforced russification of population during the Soviet totalitarian regime. When joining the Council of Europe in 1996 the Russian Federation undertook an obligation to become a party to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. It was signed by Russia, but not yet ratified. Over 2 million strong Ukrainian national minority in Russia does not have a single school in Ukrainian. Earlier this year we informed the Permanent Council that the only library of Ukrainian literature that had been operational in Moscow from 1920s was effectively closed by the authorities while the director of the Library was sentenced on trumped-up charges. Any manifestation of signs of Ukrainian identity in today’s Russia is a significant risk to personal safety and freedom. The most appalling situation is in the parts of Ukraine, illegally occupied by Russia—the Crimean peninsula and certain areas of Donbas. In the occupied Crimea the main targets of Russian repressive policies are the indigenous Crimean Tatar people and the Ukrainian community. The report on Crimea, released this week by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, put into spotlight grave violations of rights of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians from the beginning of Russian occupation and Russia’s contempt to its obligations under international law as an occupying power. The country which displays profound disregard to its obligations relating to national minorities indulges in utter hypocrisy raising questions in respect to other countries. (…)
Stellungnahme der Presse- und Informationsstelle des Außenministeriums Russlands zur Verabschiedung des »Bildungsgesetzes« in der Ukraine (12.09.2017)
Wir wurden auf die Verabschiedung eines neuen Gesetzes »Über Ausbildung« in der Obersten Rada der Ukraine vor wenigen Tagen aufmerksam, in dem harte Einschränkungen für die Nutzung der Sprachen der nationalen Minderheiten mit der Aussicht ihrer vollständigen Auswaschung aus dem Bildungssystem dieses Landes zum Jahr 2020 festgelegt werden. Obwohl im Gesetz die russische Sprache nicht erwähnt wird, ist offensichtlich, dass das Hauptziel der jetzigen ukrainischen Gesetzgeber die maximale Beeinträchtigung der Interessen von Millionen russischsprachigen Einwohnern der Ukraine, gewaltsame Aufstellung eines monoethnischen Sprachregimes in einem multinationalen Staat ist.
Wir betrachten diesen Schritt als Versuch der Maidan-Behörden, eine vollständige Ukrainisierung des Bildungsraums des Landes zu vollziehen, was sowohl ihrer Verfassung, als auch der von Kiew übernommenen internationalen Verpflichtungen im humanitären Bereich widerspricht.
Moskau ist nicht alleine bei solcher Einschätzung der Handlungen der ukrainischen Behörden. Eine scharfe Kritik des erwähnten Gesetzes wurde bereits von außenpolitischen Ämtern Ungarns, Polens, Rumäniens sowie von Präsident Moldawiens ausgeübt.
Unsererseits sind wir von der Gefragtheit der gemeinsamen Anstrengungen, darunter auf den Plattformen der internationalen Organisationen überzeugt, um der Politik der Machtstrukturen der Ukraine Widerstand zu leisten, die allgemein anerkannte menschenrechtliche Standards missachten.
Rumänien, Bulgarien, Griechenland und Ungarn
Common Letter on the adoption by the Verkhovna Rada of the draft Law on Education in Ukraine (14.09.2017)
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Teodor Melescanu, together with his counterparts from Bulgaria, Ekaterina Zakharieva, Greece, Nikos Kotzias and Hungary, Péter Szijjártó, have sent to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland and the High OSCE Commissioner for National Minorities, Lamberto Zannier, a joint letter expressing their concern and deep regret over the recent adoption by the Verkhovna Rada of the draft Law on Education in Ukraine on 5 September 2017.
This common approach takes into account the sustained interest of the signatories in ensuring the protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities and appeals to the Ukrainian authorities to identify concrete measures / solutions in this respect, in the spirit of cooperation, and strictly observing Ukraine’s norms and relevant international standards in the field.
The letter advocates the need to use all instruments available to the Council of Europe and the OSCE to ensure that the new restrictive provisions introduced by the Education Law of Ukraine will not affect the adequate protection of the fundamental rights of persons belonging to national minorities.
We also recall that the protection of the rights of persons belonging to the Romanian minority in Ukraine was permanently signaled by the Romanian side in the dialogue with the Ukrainian side. Facilitating the resolution of the problems faced by persons belonging to national minorities is a commitment of the Romanian state. From this point of view, we consider it essential to respect the right to education in Romanian for all forms of education and to continue the dialogue on this issue, including within the Romanian–Ukrainian intergovernmental joint commission on the protection of persons belonging to national minorities.
Romania reiterates its willingness to support Ukraine in the broad process of legislative, institutional and economic reforms and to contribute to international support efforts, in coordination with our partners, to effectively meet the needs of the Ukrainian side.
MFA took note concernedly of the adoption by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the new Law on Education (07.09.2017)
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs took note concernedly by the form adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on 5 September 2017 of the new Law on Education, in particular Article 7 thereof, which concerns education in the languages of national minorities.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recalls that, according to the provisions of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, States undertake to recognize the right of any person belonging to a national minority to learn their mother tongue. The necessity of compliance with the international norms in the field has been permanently signaled by the Romanian side in the dialogue with the Ukrainian side on the promotion and protection of the rights of persons belonging to the Romanian national minority in Ukraine.
In this respect, the topic of native language education for Romanian ethnicity in Ukraine will be on the agenda of Secretary of State, Victor Micula, who will travel to Kiev next week to discuss about the Romanian minority in Ukraine.
We express our expectation that the rights of the persons belonging to the Romanian minority in Ukraine will be preserved and we underline the constant concern of the Romanian authorities over this issue.
Ukraine has stabbed Hungary in the back by amending its education act (07.09.2017)
“Ukraine has stabbed Hungary in the back by amending its education act, which strongly violates the rights of the Hungarian minority”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in a telephone statement to Hungarian news agency MTI from Tallinn, where he is attending an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers.
(…) In the statement, Mr. Szijjártó said that in his view one of the most important topics on the meeting’s agenda was the amendment of Ukraine’s Act on Education, which was adopted this week. “We regard it as shameful that the amendment strongly violated the rights of the Hungarian minority, and it is shameful that a country that is striving to develop an increasingly close relationship with the European Union has made a decision that is in complete opposition to European values. It is unacceptable that Ukraine has stripped Hungarians of their right to study in their native language in schools and universities, and have only left them an opportunity to do so in nursery schools and primary schools”, the Hungarian Foreign Minister said.
The legislative amendment is endangering the operations of the majority of schools in Transcarpathia, he added.
“Ukraine’s decision not only violates the interests of the 150 thousand strong Hungarian minority, but for Ukraine to ignore its international commitments also goes against European values, Accordingly, the Hungarian Government will step up at all possible European forums to ensure that the new regulations do not come into force”, Mr. Szijjártó said.
The Minister was particularly critical of the fact that the decision is especially unfriendly towards Hungary, in view of the fact that in recent months Budapest was made it clear to the Ukrainian administration on several occasions that the amendment is a strong violation of Hungarian interests, but Kiev has adopted the amendment regardless.
“It has done so despite the fact that in recent years Hungary has provided Ukraine with several forms of assistance that were of fundamental importance with regard to the European integration process, as well as to Ukraine’s social and security situation”, he said.
“We were the loudest proponents of visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens, we were the first to ratify the association agreement between the EU and Ukraine, we transport natural gas to Ukraine via Hungary, we have provided Ukraine with 600 million forints in humanitarian aid, and have provided free holidays in Hungary for 2600 Ukrainian children during the past three years. Accordingly, Ukraine’s education policy decision can only be regarded as a stab in the back for Hungary and the Hungarian people”, Mr. Szijjártó said. (…)
This will be painful for Ukraine (26.09.2017)
“Hungary will block all steps within the European Union that would represent a step forward in Ukraine’s European integration process in the spirit of the Eastern Partnership programme”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared in a statement to Hungarian news agency MTI on Tuesday after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed the country’s new Education Act.
“We can guarantee that all this will be painful for Ukraine in future”, the Hungarian Foreign Minister said with relation to Hungary’s response to the signing of the new legislation, speaking from Singapore, where he arrived as part of an official delegation headed by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
According to Mr. Szijjártó, it is shameful and outrageous that the Ukrainian President has signed the Education Act.
The new law has generated major protests both at home and abroad, including in Hungary, in view of the fact that it reduces the rights of minorities to receive education in their native languages. According to the new legislation, with the exclusion of native language subjects, in future children from national minorities will be taught all subjects in Ukrainian from the fifth grade upwards (age ten).
Until now, President Poroshenko had spoken about the fact that the wants to take Ukraine closer to Europe, but with today’s decision “he has moved further away from Europe and taken a huge step in the opposite direction”, Mr. Szijjártó said.
Petro Poroshenko has until now spoken about a European Ukraine, he continued, “but this is something he can now forget about to all intents and purposes” in view of the fact that Hungary will be blocking all initiatives that could be favourable for Ukraine at all possible forums and all international organisations, and primarily within the EU.
Now that the association agreement between the EU and Ukraine and the agreement on visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens have been concluded, Ukraine is “nurturing the hope” that they will now be able to take further steps along the road to European integration. “Well that’s something they can now forget about”, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade declared.
“At the currently ongoing Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Hungary will be vetoing all EU comments or viewpoints that that do not condemn Ukraine with sufficient force and determination”, Mr. Szijjártó added.