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Ukrainian schools begin to drop off Russian language as discipline

The teachers’ board at a general school in the village of Rozkvit had passed a relevant decision after a petition from parents

KIEV, October 17. /TASS/. Several general schools in Ukraine’s western Khmelnitsky region and southeastern Odessa region have dropped off the Russian language as a mandatory discipline on their curriculums.

Deputy chairman of the Odessa region state administration, Sergei Koleboshin, said on Tuesday the teachers’ board at a general school in the village of Rozkvit had passed a relevant decision after a petition from the students’ parents.

"The teachers’ board discussed the situation in the wake of the refusal by the parents of some of the students from studies of the Russian language as a school discipline and it passed a decision to change the syllabus," Koleboshin told Ukrinform news agency. "From now on, only some of the students, not everyone, will study Russian at supplementary classes."

This is the first instance of refusal from mandatory studies of Russian at a school in the Odessa region. A similar decision was taken earlier by the authorities in Khmelnitsky, the administrative center of a region known as one of the mainstays of Ukrainian nationalism.

The city has 41 general schools. Officials at the local department for education said the city authorities had received about twenty collective petitions from students’ parents and public associations.

However, department director Nikolai Romanov said the teachers of Russian would not be fired pending the cancelation of classes, as they would teach foreign literature.

Ukraine adopted a highly controversial Law on Education at the end of September heavily restricting the right of ethnic minorities for getting instruction in their native tongues. As provisions of the law take effect stage by stage over the next few years, instruction in the languages of minorities will reduced to the elementary school only while all further instruction will be done in Ukrainian only.

Russia has leveled sharp criticism at the law, as it violated the international agreements on human rights signed by Kiev. Hungary, Poland, Moldova, Romania, and Bulgaria voiced criticisms, too, thus compelling the Ukrainian government to submit the law for scrutiny to the Venice Commission, which is an advisory board composed of experts on constitutional law.