Armenia Introduces Russian Language Education
Dec 22, 2010
On December 22, the parliament of Armenia approved with a vast majority of votes legislation amending the Law on Language and Law on Education. The legislative ban on education in foreign languages for Armenian citizens, implemented in the early 1990s, has finally been relaxed.
For nearly two decades, only children of national minorities and those whose parents held foreign passports could attend Russian schools in Armenia. Proponents of the legislative changes noted that such a situation was not natural with regard to the Russian language in Armenia and did not match with efforts to strengthen ties with Russia.
The initiative of the Ministry of Education and Science provoked outrage only among those extreme political factions whose initiative led to the closing of Russian schools in the early 1990s. Other opponents included parties that are fiercely pro-Western as well as some artistic groups such as the Armenian Writers Union.
It should be pointed out that the opponents of the amendments did not put forward a single intelligible argument apart from general accusations of “betrayal of national interests” and supposed threats to the Armenian language.
Also of importance is that the new foreign-language schools, as opposed to the Russian schools functioning in the Soviet era, will retain the same volume of Armenian language, literature and history lessons as in national schools.
Another stipulation also addresses the concerns of opponents of Russian-language education: basic lessons in foreign languages will not be held in the first years of study, the years when one’s thinking language is formulated. And although for now there will only be two private foreign language schools and nine schools operating on an intergovernmental agreement, it is important that Armenian children will now have the opportunity to at least in the final four years of their high school education take lessons in other languages, including Russian. We can only hope that the corresponding interstate agreement between Russia and Armenia will be signed before the start of the next academic year.
Ovanes Makukyan, Yerevan
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