Only Three Non-Russian Nations have Moscow-Approved Textbooks in Their Languages

September 2, 2015

Staunton, September 1 As Russian schools reopen, only three of Russia’s non-Russian nations – the Tatars, the Khakass and the Yakut — have government-approved textbooks in their native languages, something that makes a mockery of Moscow’s claims that it is supporting instruction in various subjects in 24 languages and offering language courses in 73 of them.

That situation, the product of a Russian law adopted in 2012 which specified that only textbooks approved by Moscow could be used in schools, is only one of the increasing number of factors working against the survival of many of these languages and hence of the nations who speak them.

Unfortunately, Elena Koshkina says, “far from every republic is ready now to find people [who can prepare such textbooks] and finance their difficult work,” which involves not only the composition and publishing of such texts but securing federal approval, all unfunded liabilities imposed by Moscow.

But that is far from the only threat to non-Russian languages. Many parents do not want their children to study them lest they not learn Russian well enough to do well in state examinations and careers or lest the study of those languages cuts into time spent on other subjects. Now another threat looms, albeit one whose full extent is not yet clear. Today, in Rossiiskaya Gazeta,” Russian Education Minister Dmitry Livanov said that as of this academic year, all students in the fifth class and above will be required to study not one foreign language but two. That will put even more pressure on non-Russian parents and schools to reduce time spent on domestic non-Russian languages ().