16 January 2020

Today, the Verkhovna Rada adopted the new edition of the Law "On Complete General Secondary Education" in its second reading. The Law again failed to implement the recommendations of the Venice Commission, although the government promised to take them into account. At the same time, the Law reproduces the provisions on the language of studies, which earlier elicited criticism of the Council of Europe.

Now only the peoples named the indigenous ones in the draft Law, primarily the Crimean Tatars, will be able to receive full secondary education in their native language. National minorities whose languages are the official languages of the EU will be able to study in their native language from 20 to 60% of the education period.

Yet, Russian-speaking and bilingual Ukrainians will find themselves in the most difficult situation: they, along with Russians, are said to be equal to “other national minorities” and will be able to study Russian in schools only within 20% of the study time. It is precisely this discrimination that the Venice Commission drew attention to.

The provisions of the Law regarding privileges in the amount of hours of studies in the mother tongue as linked to the status of the official language of not only the EU, but also of any other state education, are also unjustified. The division of citizens into grades according to linguistic, regional, religious and other features should remain in the past!

The multinational Ukrainian state will become stronger by choosing multilingualism as part of its identity, by developing its own unique multicultural space, recognizing the Russian language as one of the native languages for more than 40% of Ukrainian citizens, creating its own standards and norms of the Russian language.

Respecting the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the European Language Charter, we will be regarded as a civilized partner in the eyes of neighbouring states and the entire international community.

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