The rights of ethnic minorities to their native language, its free use and development, education in their native language – this is the theme of the upcoming 12th annual UN Forum on minority issues to be held at the end of 2019. Three regional conferences are planned to be organized in 2019 in order to collect more information and prepare recommendations on the study of native languages and teaching in them; the first of these conferences – the European regional forum on education, language and Human Rights of minorities took place in the European Parliament on May 6-7, 2019. In the Forum, under the chairmanship of the UN Special Rapporteur on minorities Fernand de Varennes, the experts, representatives of international organizations (UN, OSCE, Council of Europe, EU), governments and civil society participated.
In its presentation, ADC Memorial expressed concerns about the recent changes in the Law on education of the Russian Federation (2018); according to them, the study of non-Russian languages in school is no longer mandatory and can be carried out optionally by the choice of parents. This will naturally lead to the fact that parents will choose the Russian language of their children’s education, and the non-Russian languages will be forced out of the public and educational sphere to the private communication only. The languages of small indigenous peoples that are already at danger of extinction, with this approach, run the risk of completely disappearing, as the choice of the Russian language of education made for their children by parents for good reasons (in order to give them an education in a more promising language), will make children not to be able to communicate in their native languages.
ADC Memorial also raised the problem of inadequate education and segregation of Roma children in schools, with complete ignoring of the Romani language and its non-inclusion in the school curriculum. These problems are rooted in the Soviet national and language policy and are still existing in many countries of the Eurasian region whose authorities often deny discrimination against the Roma population and insist on the practice of segregated schools and classes. ADC Memorial called the authorities of the countries that share European values and seek to join the EU to end the practice of segregation of Roma children and ensure their rights, including the right to education and mother tongue.