52% of Ukrainians believe that Russian language should not be studied in schools at all, while in 2019 there were only 8%, data show pollconducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology.
“It is worth noting that 25-30 years ago, polls on this issue did not even include the option “not to study at all”, which testifies to the depth of changes in public views that Ukraine has undergone during the lifetime of one generation. KMIS regularly asked questions about the study of the Russian language in schools… As recently as 2019, only 8% of Ukrainians believed that it was not worth studying the Russian language in schools at all, while now 52% of such people think so,” sociologists said.
The authors of the survey emphasized: although now 42% support the preservation of the study of the Russian language to a certain extent, “but even here there have been significant internal changes” in the direction of decreasing the time that should be devoted to the study of the Russian language.
“Yes, in 1998, 46% believed that the scope of study should be the same as for the Ukrainian language. In 2019, the indicator was 30%, and now it is only 3%. Also, from 32% to 6%, those who believe that the Russian language should be studied to a lesser extent than Ukrainian, but to a greater extent than other foreign languages, have decreased. Now, in fact, of the indicated 42%, the vast majority – 33% (or almost 80% of this category of citizens) – would like to spend as much or less time on the Russian language than on other foreign languages,” the study says.
According to the survey, in all regions of Ukraine there is a significant increase in those who believe that the Russian language should not be studied at all.
“For example, in the west of Ukraine there were only 22% of such in 2019, and now – 64%. At the same time, growth in the south and east is more symptomatic. In the south, only 1% believed in 2019 that the Russian language should not be studied, and now almost half of the population (49%) believe. “In the East, none of the respondents to the 2019 survey advocated the exclusion of the Russian language from education in schools, and now 30% of them do,” say the authors of the study.
KMIS noted that at the same time regional specificity is preserved, “yet the further to the east, the more those who seek to preserve the study of the Russian language to a certain extent.”
“However, even in the south and east among those who currently support the preservation of the study of the Russian language, the absolute majority advocates a volume that will not exceed the volume of learning other foreign languages. To understand the depth of the change, even in 2019, the majority insisted on the same volume as the study of the Ukrainian language,” the study emphasizes.
In a comment to the survey, the executive director of KMIS, Anton Grushetsky, said that the current situation indicates “a significant limitation and narrowing of the scope of discussions” on the issue of language for ordinary citizens. “And let’s hope that Ukrainian politicians have drawn the right conclusions and will no longer speculate on the issue of language,” he noted.
On April 16, 2022, Taras Kremin, the commissioner for the protection of the state language, proposed to remove the subject “Russian language” from study in schools and replace it with other subjects (or by increasing the share of study of existing disciplines). Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine Serhii Shkarlet said that he supports such an initiative.
After the full-scale invasion of Russia in Ukraine, it is increasingly suggested not to recruit classes for the study of the Russian language and to replace this subject in the curriculum. However, in some cases, the Russian language will still be taught in educational institutions.
Educational ombudsman Serhiy Gorbachev named the conditions under which this subject can be studied at school: if absolutely all parents in the class agree that the Russian language should be included in the curriculum as a subject of the variable component, then it can be taught. At the same time, if not all parents want to teach the Russian language, children will not study this subject. In the event that the Russian language is studied, each lesson, according to the educational ombudsman, should begin with a reminder that Russia is an aggressor country.
The survey was conducted on February 14-22 by computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI) based on a random sample of mobile phone numbers (with random generation of phone numbers and subsequent statistical weighting), 1,017 respondents living in all regions of Ukraine (except the Autonomous Republic of Crimea).
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