December 9, 2022,
Kostadin Kostadinov, “Vazrazhdane” (The Revival Party):
“First I want to say what was already mentioned, I’ll say it once more – there was an awful amount of closed Bulgarian…well, actually not exactly schools. The teaching in Bulgarian in all schools in Ukraine, where there is Bulgarian population, was ceased. Currently, there is not a single public school where it is taught in Bulgarian. It doesn’t exist, and it hasn’t for years. When we said this thing from “Vazrazhdane”, they accused us of lying, saying “it’s not true, there are Sunday schools”. Yes, there are Sunday schools, but they are not public. The state does not participate in their funding, nor does it support them…”
This is what the leader of the parliamentary represented formation “Vazrazhdane” said during the debates in the parliamentary hall before the final vote on the provision of military aid to Ukraine.
Factcheck.bg collected the facts on the subject.
In 2017, amendments to the Education Law were adopted in Ukraine, restricting the teaching in minority languages beyond the primary education stage. The aim of the introduced amendments is to strengthen the status of Ukrainian as the state language, not to ban the languages of minorities in the country.
Article 7 of the Law on Education expressly guarantees the right of those, belonging to the national minorities to study their mother tongue in municipal secondary education institutions or in national cultural societies.
Learning the mother tongue is neither prohibited nor discontinued after the completion of the primary education stage. The mother tongue continues to be studied as a separate subject after primary school, but most of the other subjects begin to be taught in the state language – Ukrainian. In addition to that the law also states that “in accordance with the educational program in educational institutions one or more subjects may be taught in two or more languages”- the state language, English and other official languages of the European Union (EU), among which is the Bulgarian language.
The right of children from the Bulgarian national minority to learn their mother tongue is also guaranteed by a declaration signed between the Ministers of Education of Ukraine and Bulgaria in 2018. The declaration affirms that the Ukrainian state will provide the representatives of the Bulgarian minority with access to learning their mother tongue and teaching their mother tongue language and to assist in increasing the number of students who will study or study in Bulgarian.
In 2020, the Bulgarian Minister of Education and his Ukrainian counterpart signed a Protocol on Cooperation and Exchange. It has been confirmed once again that Ukraine guarantees to those belonging to the Bulgarian national minority the right to study in the Bulgarian language in preschool education and from the 1st to the 12th grade of the secondary school in accordance with the legislation of Ukraine.
Bessarabian Bulgarian and professor of history at Odessa University Oleksandr Sereda defines the claims that Bessarabian Bulgarians in Ukraine are being harassed as false: “Many of the things we have as a Bulgarian community, such as learning the Bulgarian language in school, we have had since Ukraine became and independent country. The state never forbade us anything, nor it harassed us.”
The Bessarabian Bulgarian Tetyana Stanieva shows photos of her daughter’s 8th grade Bulgarian textbook, which she uses in the public school in the village of Krinichne, on her Facebook profile.
Tetiana says that her daughter has Bulgarian language and literature classes twice in her weekly program, and apart from that, she also studies the language in a Bulgarian Sunday school.
Under Tetiana’s post, many other people from the Bulgarian national minority in Ukraine confirm that the Bulgarian language is studied in public schools in the country:
Olga Kolot – principal and teacher of Bulgarian language and literature in a Bulgarian Sunday school in Ukraine: “The city of Nikolaev, Nikolaev Secondary School No.16 – the Bulgarian language is taught as a subject, and the teaching does not stop even during the toughest days and hours after February 24. Never ever, since the independence of Ukraine, has the Bulgarian language or culture been threatened. On the contrary, Bulgarian centers are opening in universities, Sunday schools are opening as well. Language, culture and folklore are being preserved in any possible way. Festivals are organized, movies are being shot, books are published – in Bulgarian language! And all this – with the support of the Ukrainian and Bulgarian state”.
Vyatcheslav Bogdev: “Besides the studying of Bulgarian language and literature in Ukrainian schools, there are cultural institutions of the minorities, which are completely funded by the state. For example, the Center for Bulgarian culture in Bolgrad or the Center for Gagauz culture in the village of Vinogradovka (Kurchu). Both of them were visited more than once by state officials from Bulgaria. In addition to that, in the Bulgarian center there were consular days held by the Bulgarian consuls, based in the Bulgarian Consulate in Odessa.”
Diana Gerginova: “I am a journalist in an independent media. I live in the village of Kirnichki, Izmail region. Both I and my child studied Bulgarian language at school (at the village), and this is stated in our education documents.”
However, Russia is doing exactly what “Vazrazhdane” accuses Ukraine of. After the occupation of the Zaporizhzhia region, Russia banned the teaching of Bulgarian language, closed Sunday schools and cultural centers.
Following the changes in the Education Law of Ukraine from 2017, the education in the regions with Bulgarian minority is performed in Bulgarian language until the end of primary school. After primary school, subjects begin to be taught in the state language – Ukrainian, but the Bulgarian language and literature remain in the program of state schools and are not prohibited. Meanwhile, Russia prohibited the teaching of Bulgarian language in the Zaporizhzhia region it occupied months ago.
Translated by Vanessa Nikolova