Member of the Russian Civic Chamber and Chairman of the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia Albir Krganov took the floor on behalf of the Civic Chamber’s delegation at the 12th session of the Forum on Minority Issues, held under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council.
His presentation was titled “Civil society’s role in implementing state policy in providing education in minority languages and teaching them in Russia nowadays.”
“Implementing state policy on providing education in minority languages and teaching them calls for combined coordinated efforts, government agencies have every reason to rely on the capabilities of religious and civil society organizations and their initiatives,” Mr. Krganov said.
He noted that little attention was paid at the session to religious education that constitutes an important human right, and it is the role of the state to ensure that it is respected.
“Today, there are over 70 licensed secondary Islamic schools, up to 10 religious Islamic higher education institutions and one Bolgar Islamic Academy. More than 30,000 students are enrolled in these education institutions. Offering Islamic education in minority languages, apart from Arabic, is a pressing matter for Islamic religious organizations,” Mr. Krganov noted at the forum.
He went on to mention the positive experience of Tatarstan’s Muftiate in offering free Tatar language courses. “Since last year, mosques across Tatarstan’s cities and rural areas have been offering these courses. Working with the Kazan Federal University, the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia organizes the International Festival on Literature of Russian Minorities and Turkic-Speaking Countries of the CIS,” he pointed out.
“This is an intensive course that focuses on teaching to speak the Tatar language and other minority languages by mastering vocabulary for various situations and developing communications skills. The course is animated by volunteer scholars and educators, including experienced Tatar language teachers and certified language and literature scholars. Other Russian regions have followed this lead, supplementing efforts undertaken at the government level in teaching minority languages,” the speaker said.
According to Mr. Krganov, teaching minority languages and ensuring that they remain within the educational space is a matter of concern for the Russian civil society.
“Russia’s Civic Chamber held roundtable discussions on this topic and operates a hotline to this effect. The wider public contributes to developing at the Civic Chamber’s initiative of a concept for teaching minority languages and literature. The Civic Chamber rightly believes that Russia’s education system is extensively and uniquely experienced in teaching and promoting minority languages and literature. Therefore, there is a need to carry this momentum forward, taking into consideration the opportunities offered by today’s education technology, coupled with centuries-long experience of teaching minority languages and literature in Russian schools,” he pointed out.
“Civil society organizations must promote minority languages, especially among the younger generation, and develop its language awareness. These efforts impact the freedom to choose one’s mother tongue and how it is used,” Mr. Krganov said.
He noted the importance of establishing effective communications channels between the civil society and municipal and federal authorities on teaching minority languages.
“Effective state policy in providing education in minority languages and teaching them in Russia nowadays will help consolidate ethnic, cultural and language diversity, reinforce national harmony and the universal nature of Russia’s identity and the unity of the multi-ethnic people of Russia,” Mr.Krganov said in conclusion.