Philologists in Nalchik demand more hours for study of Kabardian in schools

Philologists in Nalchik demand more hours for study of Kabardian in schools

Teachers of the Kabardian language and literature are concerned about the reduction in the number of hours devoted to studying the mother tongue in schools, participants at a seminar in Nalchik said.

On December 21, a scientific and practical seminar of teachers of the Kabardian language and literature was held at the Kabardino-Balkaria State University. Specialists, philologists, teachers, students of the university’s philological department, and active members of public organizations attended, as did a correspondent from the news portal "Caucasian Knot". 

All rights and possibilities for the preservation and development of languages are enshrined in the Constitution, said Muayed Chechenov,  a member of the Coordinating Council of NGOs, who read out the relevant excerpts from the Russian Federation Constitution. But, he added, "the basic law is declared, but not complied with." 

In Kabardino-Balkaria, the Kabardian language and the Balkar language are designated state languages, but in fact they are not, Chechenov believes.

The problem of the Russian language in such countries as Latvia, Ukraine, Estonia, and others is widely covered in the federal media, but the same cannot be said of such national languages ​​as Circassian, journalist Astemir Shebzukhov said at the seminar.

"Our problems and aspirations remain within the ethnic group and do not become the subject of broad public discussion. The most objective coverage of these issues is found on selected Internet portals," said Shebzukhov.

"I would like to cite a few statistics. We posted six short articles on the problems of the Circassian language in one of the Adygh thematic groups on the social network Instagram. They were viewed by slightly more than 58,000 people, 5641 users marked them "like," and 124 left comments. Almost all the discussion of those articles was in the Circassian language, using different dialects of the language. Internet users are expressing concern about the problem we raised and are looking for ways out of the situation," the journalist said.

The resolution adopted at the end of the seminar says that arguments about the teaching of native languages continue unabated in the Russian Federation, including in Kabardino-Balkaria, and this worries people.

"School principals conduct written surveys among students to determine whether they want to learn their native languages. The same kind of survey is also conducted among parents. If we look at the problem from this angle, such a survey could show that school children are reluctant to study many subjects, but the questionnaires insistently mention only the national languages,"  the resolution says.

Thus, the resolution notes, the child is driven into a strictly defined framework of choice, without taking into account the fact that it does not yet have an independent view. In addition, the resolution says, "some parents believe that [studying] the native language and literature is an unnecessary burden."

Seminar participants told Caucasian Knot’s correspondent kind of what problems teachers of the Kabardian language encounter in schools.

A female teacher of the Kabardian language at one of Nalchik’s schools told Caucasian Knot’s correspondent on condition of anonymity that beginning on January 1, local studies will be introduced in the 10th and 11th grades instead of native language lessons. In addition, she said, according to her, the number of hours devoted to the Kabardian language has been reduced in all other classes. Instead of four hours per week in grades 5-6, there will be only three hours a week, and in grades 10 and 11 - two hours. She predicted that the abolition of the native language examination ​​in the 9th and 11th grades will likewise have a negative effect.  

One of the problems with teaching the Kabardian language in schools is the lack of quality educational and methodological literature, Musadin Kardanov, who heads the Kabardian language department at the Kabardino-Balkarian State University, told "Caucasian Knot."

Seminars for teachers of the Kabardian language are held annually,  but this one proved extraordinary, doctor of philology and senior researcher Madina Hakuasheva told "Caucasian Knot"’s correspondent.

"The fact is that the level of national self-awareness has grown, including among youth. Against this background, the abolition of national [language] lessons on the basis of arbitrary decisions could cause a public outcry, because it is a violation of constitutional rights," Hakuasheva said.

This article was published by Caucasian Knot and is translated from Russian.