The end of Transcarpathian Hungarian schools?

In 2022, a state inspection took place at the schools of the Berehove district, the results of which were not completely satisfactory, Taras Kremin, the commissioner for the protection of the state language, said on January 19.

As he wrote, out of 108 schools where education is conducted in Hungarian as well as the state language, 37 institutions do not have a class in which they teach exclusively in Ukrainian.

According to Article 7 of the Law on Education adopted in September 2017, citizens belonging to national minorities can now study exclusively in their native language only in kindergarten and primary school (grades 1-4). At the level of general secondary education, starting from the 5th grade, at least 20% of the annual curriculum must be in the state language. The volume of classes conducted in Ukrainian in the 9th grade increases to 40%. In the last grades of secondary school, at least 60% of subjects must be taught in Ukrainian. The transition period for students representing minorities who communicate in official languages of the EU has been extended until 2023, so in the fall of 2022, Hungarian schools began to increase the number of classes taught in the state language for students who entered the fifth grade.

According to the ombudsman, the inspectors found four schools in the district, from the official names of which the mark “Hungarian” has not yet been removed.

According to the new law on education in Ukraine, the first four grades constitute an elementary school, grades 5-9 a gymnasium, and grades 10-11 (from 2027 grades 10-12) a lyceum. Accordingly, the names have also changed: there are no more elementary or secondary schools. These educational institutions are Ukrainian-speaking, where education is also conducted in Hungarian. Therefore, Hungarian schools actually ceased to exist.

In this regard, the ombudsman noted: during the inspection, they encountered the fact that the term “Hungarian-language educational institution” is also used in some legislative and regulatory acts of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine. According to Kremin, this creates a basis for “schools to violate the legislation on the state language.”

The commissioner for the protection of the state language said: based on the results of the inspection, a package of proposals for eliminating the identified deficiencies was sent to the Berehove District State Administration and the Ministry of Education.

Transcarpathian Hungarian minority rights organizations have already requested changes to the ominous Article 7 of the Law on Education since the publication of the bill. The Transcarpathian Hungarian Pedagogical Association has repeatedly submitted its proposals for solving problems to the Ministry of Education in order to find solutions to educational problems through constructive cooperation and dialogue. But to no avail.