According to the Constitution of the Ukraine (Article 10), the official language is Ukrainian. The same Article guarantees the free development, use and protection of Russian and other languages of national minorities. The Law on Culture (2011) establishes that the “State ensures the comprehensive development and functioning of the national language in cultures all over Ukraine, promotes the creation of the domestic (national) culture product in Ukrainian and its popularisation in Ukraine and abroad; free use of other languages is guaranteed in the sphere of culture”.
Picture 2: Language use in Ukraine
Source: The Ukrainian Week magazine. 23.06.2017
According to the 2001 census, 67.5% of the population of the Ukraine consider Ukrainian their native language and 29.6% name Russian as their native language. According to social monitoring studies undertaken by the Institute of Sociology of the National Academy of Sciences, the Ukrainian language is used in daily communication by 42% of families, Russian by 36%, and both languages by 21%.
In June 2017, a group of Ukrainian MPs have submitted to consideration of Verkhovna Rada the Draft Law of Ukraine On operation of Ukrainian language as official. As it is stated in the document, Ukrainian language is the state (official) language, however, it doesn’t concern privacy and religious life. It is also envisaged that the National Committee on Linguistic Standards should create a Center of Ukrainian Language which would provide established certificate on language skills after examination. It would obligatory for public servants, especially, top managers. The bill envisages also the establishment of linguistic ombudsman which could be appointed by the government.
Table 2: Printed output (general data), 2014-2017 (11 months)
|Type||Number of titles (2014)||Number of copies, thou (2014)||Number of titles (2015)||Number of copies, thou (2015)||Number of titles (2016)||Number of copies, thou (2016)||Number of titles (2017, 11 months)||Number of copies, thou (2017)|
|Books and booklets||22044||55312,0||19958||36409,8||21330||48978,1||16204||30871,5|
|Synopsis of thesis||6512||651,9||7349||735,0||6234||623,4||4440||453,3|
Source: Book Chamber of Ukraine, 2017.
On September 2017, Verkhovna Rada adopted new Law of Ukraine On Education. According to Article 3 of the new law, all citizens of Ukraine are guaranteed equal right to education. It clearly states that this guaranteed right is provided regardless of age, sex, race, state of health, disability, citizenship, nationality, political, religious or other beliefs, place of residence, language of communication, origin, social and property status, prior convictions, and other circumstances. In addition to that, everyone has the right to access public educational, scientific and information resources, including online resources, electronic textbooks and other multimedia teaching resources, in the manner prescribed by the law. Thus, the emphasis is made on inclusive education for all without exception, guaranteed by law. Beyond setting a framework for a large-scale school reform, the law regulates the language of education.
The Article 7 of the law states that instruction in secondary schools across Ukraine is to be conducted exclusively in Ukrainian. The provision changes the current situation, which is governed by the Law on the Principles of State Language Policy of 2012, that allows instruction to be provided in minority languages at schools in the regions where minorities represent more than ten per cent of the population – provided that the teaching of Ukrainian is ensured to the extent required for the socialisation of minority pupils.
Ukraine’s government has explained that Article 7 “clearly ensures the right of national minorities in Ukraine to maintain their collective identity through the medium of their mother tongue at primary and secondary levels of education.” Persons belonging to national minorities and indigenous populations of Ukraine are guaranteed the right to study in public educational institutions to acquire pre-school and primary education in the language of the respective national minority, along with the state language. This right is exercised through the establishment of separate classes (groups) with instruction in the language of the respective national minority, in addition to the state language. National minorities are also guaranteed the right to study their language in public general secondary schools or through national cultural societies.
Ukrainian officials have stressed that the law aims to bring the education system closer to European standards and ensure equal opportunities for all. An increasing number of graduates from minority schools fail to pass the Ukrainian language test (60.1% of pupils belonging to the Hungarian and Romanian minorities failed the test in Ukrainian in 2016: see “The Law on Education and Zakarpattia: What do the national minorities think and how the Law will be implemented”. (https://goloskarpat.info/society/59de4eaf58ac6/?utm_content=03141). As such, the government claims that the law aims to improve the prospects of minorities in higher education and employment in the public sector. In these fields, proficiency in the state language is a requirement and, thus, the law is supposed to enhance the equality of opportunities for all members of Ukrainian society.
At the present, according to the data of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, about 10% (9.7%) of schools are teaching in Russian, mainly in the eastern part in Ukraine, other more used national minority languages are Romanian (0.5%) and Hungarian (0.4%). According to the data of Statistics Service of Ukraine as for September 2017, there were 16 365 schools in Ukraine by the beginning of 2016/2017 school year, with instruction in Ukrainian in 15 020 schools, in Russian – 581, Romanian – 75, Hungarian – 71, Polish – 5, Moldavian – 3, several languages – 619.
Table 3: Languages used in secondary schools in Ukraine for teaching by the beginning of 2016/2017 school year
|Number of pupils||Total||State schools||Private schools|
|including those studied in||3 769 962||3 746 549||23 413|
|Ukrainian||3 376 785||3 363 901||12 88|
|Russian||355 955||346 328||9 627|
|Romanian||16 139||16 139||–|
|Hungarian||16 020||15 497||523|
|Polish||1 785||1 785||–|
|Moldavian||2 693||2 693||–|
Source: State Statistics Service of Ukraine, 2017.
National TV and radio stations provide special programmes in the languages of national minorities: Russian, Crimean Tatar, German, Greek, Bulgarian, Armenian, Hungarian, and Romanian (see chapter 4.1.8).
Table 4: Printed media in Ukraine in national languages in 2016
|Printed media||Total||Among them|
|Newspapers||Periodic editions, except newspapers|
|Number of editions||Number of copies, thou||Number of editions||Number of copies, thou||Number of editions||Number of copies, thou|
|Total:||3 221||911 423,8||1506||870 906,8||1 715||40 517,0|
|Russian||654||441 430,6||417||416 575,5||237||24 855,1|
|Hungarian||4||2 886,8||4||2 886,8||—||—|
|Ukrainian||1474||410 567,3||885||399 237,7||589||11 329,6|
|Ukrainian and Russian||532||54 278,6||177||50 395,8||355||3 882,8|
Source: State Committee for television and radio broadcasting of Ukraine, 2017.