Hungarian language education in peril in Ukraine — And echoes in Québec

2017/9/10 21:30:58

László Brenzovics was the single Hungarian legislator voting for the change so Hungarian language education beyond fourth form appears doomed


By Christopher Adam for the Hungarian Free Press, Sep 9, 2017


Ukraine’s parliament accepted a law this week, which has been widely condemned by political parties of all stripes in Hungary and by ethnic Hungarian community leaders in Ukraine. If Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signs into law the bill accepted by legislators, Hungarian children in western Ukraine will no longer be able to study in Hungarian beyond Grade 4. Ukraine’s Minister of Education, Liliya Hrynevych, attempted to justify the law by asserting that striping minorities of their right to study in their mother tongue starting in the fifth grade was necessary to ensure that children from minority communities are not disadvantaged when completing their high school exit exams or when applying to university. Mr. Poroshenko is almost certain to sign off on the law, considering that his party voted for it all but unanimously, the one exception being a lone Hungarian legislator called László Brenzovics.


The Cultural Alliance of Hungarians in Sub-Carpathia, the Hungarian Democratic Alliance in Ukraine and the Hungarian Educators’ Alliance of Sub-Carpathia issued a joint statement this week, calling on Mr. Poroshenko not to sign off on the law. “The law ignores the country’s constitution and Ukraine’s international obligations, stripping minorities of the opportunity to study in their mother tongue. This eliminates the foundations of their very existence,” reads the statement issued by the three organisations.


Ethnic Romanian and Bulgarian community leaders have joined Mr. Brenzovics in demanding that the Ukrainian president veto the law. The law threatens the existence of some 100 Hungarian language schools in the western regions of the country, as well as 120 Romanian and five Polish schools. The most significant threat, however, is to the much larger Russian minority. Approximately 10% of students in Ukraine study in a minority language, with Russian being by far the most prominent of these.


Ukraine’s Hungarian population is estimated at 152,000 and Hungarians comprise 12% of the region of western Ukraine known in Hungarian as Kárpátalja. Hungarians are dominant in towns such as Beregszász (Berehove) and Nagyszőlős (Vinohradiv), where the community no longer forms the majority, but is still strong enough to elect Hungarian mayors. This can no longer be said for the larger regional towns of Munkács (Mukachevo) and Ungvár (Uzhhorod), where in both places Hungarians now form less than 10% of the local population.


[…] ... tion-in-peril-in-ukraine/

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