Proposals of the Transcarpathian Hungarian Pedagogical Association concerning the standards of the Ukrainian language teaching at the schools with a minority language of instruction

 The association continues to await the implementation of the Venice Commission’s proposal to amend Article 7 and replace the existing provision with a more balanced and clear text, as this is the most appropriate solution in this case.

Ultimately, the notion that restrictive and discriminatory provisions of Article 7 could be eliminated in the course of its implementation by a special law or by-law dependent on the existing law would create an irreconcilable legislative conflict. This was evidenced by the amendments made on April 25, 2019 to the Law of Ukraine on Higher Education, adopted in 2014, including Article 48, which addresses the issue of the language of instruction in higher educational institutions. In the previous version of the aforementioned law, namely Article 48, paragraph 3, the regulation was the following: “… higher educational establishments of private ownership in Ukraine have the right to freely choose the language of instruction …” So, passed in 2014, after the Maidan, the law allowed private universities and institutes to choose their language of instruction in accordance with the resolution of the Venice Commission. In 2019, the same parliament that passed this law, citing the basic Law on Education of 2017, restricted the language of instruction for private higher educational institutions to Ukrainian. That is, in the current version of the Law of Ukraine “On Higher Education” this item has already been deleted, and the following regulations remained:

«1. The language of the educational process in higher education is the state language»

«3. The use of languages ​​in higher educational institutions is determined by the laws of Ukraine On Ensuring the Functioning of Ukrainian As a State Language and On Education»

Therefore, we are rightly concerned with the intention to amend Article 7 in education laws, as it is not guaranteed that they will be amended in a few years due to legal conflict of interest.

That is why we continue to insist on the amendment to Article 7 of the basic Law on Education as follows: “Ukrainian community and private property educational establishments have the right to freely choose their language of instruction.” We continue to hope for the preservation of existing rights to study in our native language, to improve the quality of native language teaching in public schools instead of narrowing the educational opportunities in the native language.

It is important to keep providing Hungarian textbooks for all subjects at all levels of education – from kindergarten through high school.

Concerning the different levels of education, for the protection of the rights of national minorities and the preservation of the culture of national minorities and indigenous peoples, the Transcarpathian Hungarian Pedagogical Association recommends the following.

  1. In the kindergarten, in order to ensure the educational process which can be conducted in the native language according to the Law, a curriculum for the study of the native language and folklore should be developed and/or approved at the state level, as well as an appropriate methodological material, as currently no program has yet been developed and approved at the national level for the development of the native language of national minorities for kindergartens in their language of instruction.
  1. At the elementary school level, the following problems must be solved:

2.1. The current standard does not allow minority schools to teach a foreign language at a level similar to that of Ukrainian schools because a smaller number of hours is available. According to previous practice, the description of the number of hours specifically stated how many lessons can be devoted to Ukrainian, national (Hungarian) and the chosen foreign language. For the academic year 2019-2020, this was modified by giving the languages ​​a total number of hours and then establishing a different regulation on the number of hours required to teach Ukrainian, which takes up more than half of the total number of hours. The remaining hours can be divided between Hungarian and foreign languages. Either the native or a foreign language can be taught properly. In our correspondence, the ministry made it clear that we could choose Hungarian as a foreign language or English, both being European languages. This calls into question the legal status of the native language of minorities, attributing it to the category of foreign languages, as if we were immigrants in our own homeland. We have suggested increasing the number of minority language lessons by the number of foreign language lessons available for Ukrainian schools. This would mean 2-3 additional hours a week. Thus, Ukrainian, native language and foreign language would be taught in as many hours as in Ukrainian schools, although in the Hungarian class the students would have 2-3 lessons more each week, but it is accepted and even requested by the parents themselves. The answer was that it could not be provided because of the danger to the health of the children, and it would be necessary to spend the same amount from the state budget for each child, if the Hungarian students received more, it would violate the rights of Ukrainians. If this remains in force, the rights of national minorities will be violated, since they will not be able to study their native language and a foreign one on the same level as the students in Ukrainian schools.

2.2. The adopted standard on Ukrainian does not take into account the specifics of minority languages ​​and contains a completely unrealistic set of requirements. The curriculum promotes assimilation, not integration

Our suggestions:

2.1. We decline the proposal to include the native language to the category of foreign languages (Section 23 of the State Standard).

2.2. Make it compulsory to teach a foreign language in elementary grades from second grade, as in Ukrainian schools, 2-3 hours a week, as in Ukrainian classes. For this purpose, extend the language base for minorities to the number of foreign language lessons taught in Ukrainian schools. Thus, the Ukrainian, native language and foreign language would be taught in the same number of hours as in Ukrainian schools, although in Hungarian classes the students will have 2-3 additional hours per week, but it is accepted and even requested by the parents themselves.

Taking into account the right of all citizens to equal access to education, the Pedagogical Association appeals to the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine to make adjustments to the relevant standards and to develop standard curricula that will ensure the realization of this right.

  

  Name of educational branch Annual number of hours
1st grade 2nd grade 3rd grade 4th grade total
  Invariant component
1. Language and literature, including: 385 420 455 455 1715
  Ukrainian language and literature 175 175 210 210
  language and literature of the relevant indigenous nation or national minority 175 175 175 175
   foreign-language 35 70 70 70  
  General subjects taught in the native language          
2. Mathematics 140 140 140 140 560
3. Nature + social sciences and health + civic knowledge and history + technology + IT: 105 175 175 175 770
  Natural sciences 35 35 35 35  
  Social sciences and healthcare 35 35 35 35  
  Civic knowledg and history 35 35 35 35  
  Technology   35 35 35  
  IT   35 35 35  
4. Arts: 70 70 70 70 280
  visual arts, taking into account the specificity of the national minority 35 35 35 35  
  music and singing (native singing), taking into account the specificity of the national minority 35 35 35 35  
5. Physical education* 105 105 105 105 420
  Variable component
  Extra hours for the study of selected educational branches, subjects, one-on-one consultations and group classes     35 35 70
  Number of annual budget-funded teaching hours (excluding division into groups) 805 910 980   945 945 3605
  Maximum annual training load of the student 20/700 23/815 24/840 24/840 91/3195

 

2.2. It is necessary to develop realistic requirements in the national standard for learning the state/Ukrainian language, which takes into account the specifics of teaching a second language to children for whom it is not native. Based on the experience of some European countries, the Pedagogical Association estimates that schools with languages of instruction of national minorities can complete the study of the state language by the end of primary school at A1 – entry-level according to the international standard.

 

  1. At the level of basic secondary education:

3.1. After graduating from elementary school, 40% of subjects must be taught in the state language: this is total discrimination, which makes quality education in general subjects impossible. On the one hand, it requires an immediate change of language in the transition from elementary to basic education, which is a pedagogical nonsense in the case of almost all subjects. In other words, if a child studied science at the elementary school level in Hungarian, how can you teach them geography or biology in Ukrainian the following year? Expecting a specialist teacher to prepare students for a language change next year is also absurd, since he or she must teach the same subject, not the language, in the same number of hours. That is, such a transition will also lead to a deterioration in the quality of education.

3.2.  The Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine has not taken steps to reform the teaching of the state language, and the current system does not, in essence, provide for the acquisition of the state language in the system of national minority schools at the level of the state standard. Since the independence of Ukraine, no academic or school vocabulary has been created and published with financing from the state budget. The vocabularies we work with in our schools have been compiled by the Uzhgorod National University and teachers from our Association and published at the expense of the Hungarian state. In addition, adequate didactic resources were not provided: modern textbooks, workbooks, school dictionaries, professional dictionaries, etc.

If a student lives in a non-Ukrainian language environment, there are completely unrealistic expectations about learning Ukrainian, as some plans require knowledge of Ukrainian at levels B2 by the end of the 9th grade (or even C1, according to some plans) from an average Hungarian elementary school graduate. And this is so while the current program is not intended to develop language competences or communication skills at all, but is almost exclusively focused on grammar rules and their application as if the students already spoke Ukrainian. Teaching Ukrainian literature is the same for students of Ukrainian schools and minorities, so it is unrealistic to implement it in a qualitative way.

3.3 The curricula do not ensure the preservation of the identity of the national minority and the development of the native language, literature, culture and history of national minorities. No programs and standards have been developed for these issues. World literature, previously taught as an integrated course with Hungarian literature, is now also planned to be taught in Ukrainian.

Our suggestions:

3.1. We believe that in order to preserve the quality of education, it is necessary to preserve the right of the children to be taught in their native language, and not to limit the percentage of subjects taught in the native language. During classes, teachers can familiarize children with the specific terms of the subject in the Ukrainian language, which develops their vocabulary, while maintaining the language of instruction. In order to master the basic competences of knowledge of the state language, it is necessary to reform the study of the Ukrainian language according to European examples.

3.2. We believe that the quality assurance of Ukrainian language learning should be implemented not by increasing hours or switching to other subjects in Ukrainian, but by developing appropriate standards and programs, methodologies, textbooks, didactic materials, dictionaries based on them, taking into account the language specificity of each minority . One of the first steps should be the development of a large academic dictionary, and then other dictionaries, and their publication – preferably at public expense. Based on the experience of European countries, the Transcarpathian Hungarian Pedagogical Association believes that schools with languages ​​of instruction of national minorities can implement the education of the state language by the end of elementary school at level A2 – the basic level of the international standard.

3.3.  In order to preserve national identity, you should introduce into the invariant component the teaching Hungarian folklore at the expense of compulsory classes of 1 hour per week in grades 5-6, the history of the Hungarian nation in grades 7-8-9, also 1 1 hour per week. The Transcarpathian Hungarian Pedagogical Association has developed and published educational programs and textbooks entitled History of the Hungarian Nation, History of the Hungarian Music. We ask for your permission to include them in the approved curricula, which have been allowed for use in the educational process with the possibility of their inclusion in the curriculum of the institution.

When designing a curriculum for subjects that affect identity development, such as art, art and fine arts, singing and music, works and artists, the hallmarks of Hungarian culture should be part of the curriculum and set of requirements.

When planning to teach Hungarian and literature, consider the following:

  • curricula and curriculum requirements should be adapted to those in force in Hungary because in terms of language and literature teaching, the important thing is what is effectively used in a country where that language is official, because this is where the qualified professionals are;
  • Hungarian-language educational institutions should be able to adapt and use Hungarian textbooks and workbooks at least in Hungarian language and literature to ensure the availability of textbooks. It would also be economically advantageous for the Ukrainian state.

Proposals of the Transcarpathian Hungarian Pedagogical Society concerning the sample curriculum of basic secondary education for general secondary education institutions with the language of instruction of an indigenous nation or a national minority

Name of educational branch Annual number of hours
grades 5-6 grades 7-9 total

Language and literature, including  language and literature of the relevant indigenous nation or national minority and foreign-language education**,

including:

1015 1365 2380
Ukrainian language and literature 455 595 1050

native (Hungarian) language

and an integrated course of native and foreign literature

350 490 840
foreign language (for example, English) 210 280 490
Mathematics 350 525 875
Nature 210 875 1085
Social sciences and health 70 70 140
Civiс knowledge, history 105 245 350
Technology 70 105 175
IT 70 140 210
Arts 105 105 210
Physical education * 210 315 525
2205 3745 5950
Extra hours for the study of selected educational branches, subjects, one-on-one consultations and group classes, including: 70 105 175
native folklore 35   35
native ethnology 35   35
native history   105 105
Extra hours for the study of educational branches 70 105 175
Number of annual budget-funded teaching hours (excluding division into groups) 2345 3955 6300
Maximum annual training load of the student 2135 3640 5775

 

The proposed changes to the number of hours in the permissible annual load are supported by the parental community

 

  1. At the high school level:

4.1. The new high school standard in Ukrainian language and literature is designed to be at the same level as the C1 language exam. The proposed standards do not take into account the fact that Ukrainian is a second language for minorities and do not require students to develop language skills, but remain grammatically oriented.

4.2. If the concept of foreign language teaching at the elementary school level does not change, Hungarian children will not be able to study, for example English, again after primary school, or they may be forced to join the educational process without having learned the language.

4.3. At the secondary school level, teaching 60% of subjects in Ukrainian is expected to close or significantly impair the schools. At the high school level, we strongly reject this and treat it as a complete restriction on existing rights: a coercive tool to achieve assimilation.

4.4. There is no centralized assessment from the native language of minorities in independent examination centers, which is abusive and discriminatory.

4.5. The existence of minority education is being jeopardized by the restrictions on enrollment in secondary schools, which are planned to be introduced from 2020. For example, at the secondary school level (grades 10-11), it will be possible to open a class only if at least 40 students are available.

Our suggestions:

4.1. In order to preserve the quality of education, it is necessary to preserve and continue to ensure the right of children to be taught in their native language, and not to limit the percentage of teaching subjects in the native language. It is important to further ensure that one can complete the final/introductory test in the main subjects in Hungarian. We fear that the provisions of the Law on Education will be disadvantageous or discriminatory for minority schools.

4.2. In minority language schools, the study of the national language should be conducted according to the standards of the second language (taking into account the specific language of the indigenous population of the respective national minority). The minimum requirements for the purpose and content of teaching the second language at the levels defined by the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) and recommended by the European Council’s Resolution (November 2001) should be used to create national systems for assessing language competence. Developing a theoretical and practical basis for mastering Ukrainian as a second language requires new approaches, techniques, and a special interpretation of linguistic phenomena. These general educational standards should be the basis for the study of the Ukrainian language as a second language, which should meet the needs in the social, humanitarian, educational, socio-cultural, country-specific fields of communication. International practice shows that a B2 level of a certain language is required of university graduates and is not a requirement for secondary school students. An exception may be Ukrainian philology, which requires level B2. Based on the experience of European countries, the Transcarpathian Hungarian Pedagogical Association believes that schools with national minority languages of instruction ​​can implement the teaching of the state language by the end of high school at B1 – intermediate I level. Introducing the study of the state language according to this concept requires changes in the external independent assessment of the knowledge of school graduates with the language of instruction of national minorities. Graduates of these schools are required to undergo EIT according to the standards of appropriate language proficiency levels. Prior to the entry into force of the above standards and the introduction of new standards for assessing the quality of knowledge during the EIT, the adapted lowered threshold for assessing knowledge of the Ukrainian language and literature of graduates of institutions with the language of instruction of national minorities should be applied. Use this adapted threshold when assessing the quality of knowledge in the case of State Final Exams.

4.3. It is crucial to make it possible to pass an independent external native language exam or take a Hungarian language final exam in Transcarpathia. The requirements and content of the Hungarian final exam should be adapted to the requirements in force in Hungary.

Continue to provide the opportunity to take the final/entrance tests in professional subjects in Hungarian. We fear that the provisions of the Law on Education will be very disadvantageous for minority schools.

4.4. An independent external evaluation should be allowed to be passed in other EU foreign languages, such as Bulgarian, Greek, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Czech, and Hungarian as a foreign language.

4.5. The Ministry should take into account that the majority of national minorities have the same requirements, such as the minimum class sizes, which in most settlements will mean the termination of these schools. Here, the ministry, in the light of other European experiences, should use positive factors to maintain national minority education institutions.

 

  1. At the level of higher education

 5.1. Adopted in 2014, after the events fhe Maidan, the Law on Higher Education allowed private universities to choose their language of instruction in accordance with the resolution of the Venice Commission. Article 48, paragraph 3 stated that “… higher educational establishments of private ownership in Ukraine have the right to freely choose the language of instruction …”. In 2019, the same Parliament decided to regulate the language of teaching in private higher educational institutions. That is, in the current wording of the Law of Ukraine “On Higher Education” this item has already been deleted, while the following regulations remain:

«1. The language of the educational process in higher education is the state language. ”

«3. The use of languages ​​in higher educational institutions is determined by the laws of Ukraine “On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as a state language” and “On education” »

5.2. It is still not possible for minority languages ​​to be part of the central system of final exams. Although an internal final exam is allowed, it is not part of the state’s system of independent assessment. It is not possible to apply for the native language exam in the admission procedure. You can take the English, German, French, Spanish exam, but not Romanian, Slovak and Hungarian, although they are all official languages in the EU.

5.3 The new law on higher education also makes it impossible to obtain higher education for national minorities, even in the case of private universities. Because the external testing system allows assessment of knowledge only in Ukrainian. That is, even if someone has studied Hungarian at a higher education institution, they will still have to take the final exams in Ukrainian, which puts graduates of Hungarian higher education in an extremely disadvantageous situation.

5.4. The new law on higher education also aims to limit the autonomy of private universities by allowing the rector’s title to be granted only to persons whose accreditation has been approved by the Ukrainian state (for example, associate professor). This is also significantly different from European standards.

5.5. The accreditation process under the law on higher education still contains extreme standards. For example, the Transcarpathian Hungarian Institute is not able to accredit the kindergarten pedagogy department because there is no person with a doctoral degree who would also have obtained a basic education as a kindergarten teacher.

5.6. The work of private universities is complicated by the process of nostrification of diplomas and degrees obtained abroad. In the process of nostrification, almost the entire process of assignment of the academic title is repeated. Because it is necessary to translate the text of the scientific dissertation into the state language, which is sent to the lecturers. In the case of a positive conclusion, the work is referred to the Scientific Council appointed by the Ministry of Education and Science, which can ask to re-defend the thesis and then secretly vote on the awarding of the academic title. There are almost no positive developments in this matter.

5.7. The rules of employment of foreign professors remains too bureaucratic. Regional administrations need to contribute to their implementation. They cannot apply for a temporary residence permit and cannot work without permission. They must apply for a temporary residence permit every year, otherwise they cannot obtain a work permit and tax ID. The degree of professors is credited to the number of qualified lecturers of the institution, but only if it is naturalized, which can only be initiated by Ukrainian citizens, who have a permanent place of residence.

  

Our suggestions

5.1. We insist on maintaining the existing rights to study in our native language. We demand that Article 7 of the basic Law on Education be amended as follows: “Ukrainian state and private property schools have the right to freely choose their language of instruction.”

5.2. Ensure that the language of education in the case of national minorities is  included in the system of final/entrance examinations at education quality assessment centers.

5.3. With regard to private higher educational institutions, provide the choice of the language of instruction by the founder or owner of the institution, as well as the possibility of final examinations in the language of instruction.

5.4. Ensure the autonomy of the higher educational institution with regard to the requirements of the Rector’s degree and amend the Law on Higher Education as follows: «The candidate for the position of head of higher educational institution must be fluent in the state language, have a scientific degree and/or higher scientific degree (for arts higher educational institutions- a scientific degree or an arts doctorate degree) and work experience in scientific and educational positions of no less than 10 years. The candidate for the position of head of an institution of state or communal property should be a citizen of Ukraine».

5.5. Adapt European standards when developing the Licensing and Accreditation System.

5.6. The procedure for nostrification of academic degrees obtained abroad should be simplified; we propose the conclusion of a new treaty with Hungary on this subject.

5.7. Simplify the procedure for obtaining a residence permit in Ukraine, obtaining a work permit for foreign nationals working in higher educational institutions.

Berehove, December 21, 2019