On March 18, 2020, the Law of Ukraine No. 463-IX “On Complete General Secondary Education” came into force after it was signed by the President of Ukraine and published in the newspaper Holos Ukrayiny.
Some school principals in Transcarpathia immediately received letters instructing them to change the schools’ by-laws and stamp to meet the requirements of the above law. In particular, the letter was sent to the schools, the names of which stated that these were “Hungarian language” schools. According to Article 5 of this Law, the state language is the language of the educational process, and, in schools, there may be separate classes, in which education is partly provided in the language of a national minority. According to the Law No. 2074-VIII “On the Functioning of Ukrainian as a State Language” adopted on April 25, 2019, the use of the state language is compulsory in all areas of life except private, personal communication and religious ceremonies. Section 32 of the Law on General Secondary Education states that the founding, registration and authorization of lyceums (ie, schools providing full secondary education) is the responsibility of regions or cities with a population of more than 50,000 people. In grades 10-12, at least four concurrent classes must be functioning at the Lyceum. Only in this case can the institution receive state funding, which is complemented by funding from local and community budgets. Therefore, if there are small classes in the lyceum, they should mostly be financed from local budgets. The Transcarpathian Hungarian Pedagogical Association appeals to the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, as well as to all institutions with the authority to make decisions related to this issue:
- We are aware of the legal status of the state language in Ukraine, namely that it is the language of the educational process, but we continue to insist that the by-laws of schools where instruction is also provided in Hungarian indicate that the languages of the educational process are Ukrainian and Hungarian, as well as, in accordance with the practice of previous years, this fact be included in the name and stamp of the school.
- We continue to insist that schools with Hungarian classes or groups, as it was during the previous years, were allowed to use Hungarian in personal and official communication, as well as to hold events and meetings, to publish scheduled, ads, visuals, wallpapers in Hungarian.
- We ask the Ministry to abolish the requirement for four parallel classes in the case of lyceums with minority language education, to reduce the minimum number of students for national minorities in high schools, the same way it is practiced in neighboring countries. This is called positive discrimination. The Transcarpathian Hungarian Pedagogical Association draws the attention of the relevant local communities, principals, school leaders, and local authorities to the fact that new school by-laws should be developed after the formation of the administrative communities (hromada in Ukrainian), and also take into account the interests of the Hungarian community they represent. When creating and adopting new by-laws, the current status of the educational institutions should not be lowered, as subsequently, if the required number of students is available, it will be much more difficult to achieve a higher status than to maintain the existing one. In the course of the creation and modification of the by-laws it should be made clear that the languages of the educational process are Ukrainian and Hungarian, as this is a condition for the functioning of the Hungarian-speaking classes and groups.
- When creating and adopting new by-laws for educational institutions, we recommend that all institutions be named in honor of prominent Hungarian historical figures, thus reflecting the nature of the work performed at the institution and the peculiarity of the school. The work of educational institutions in villages should not be stopped. Efforts should be made to ensure that every settlement where a level I-II school has been operating remains at this level, that is, the level of the gymnasium under the new law. If the number of students is too low, it should still be possible to provide education until at least sixth grade. This is justifiable from a pedagogical point of view, because at this age, children are in a stage of development when they need the most parental attention. This can also be accomplished from the point of view of the organization of education, since in grades 5-6 there is no need for specialized educational facilities, teachers themselves can provide the education at the required level. Instead of closing schools, small schools and kindergartens operating in different localities should be brought together under common management, with some powers retained. All educational institutions that will be elements of such an institution should be named in the by-laws (and also the highest status of each of them must be indicated: kindergarten, elementary school, gymnasium, and lyceum).