Ana Tele goes silent because of payment issues

Does the online Tatar language school have a future in the Year of Conservation of Mother Tongues in Tatarstan?

As Realnoe Vremya found out, users of Ana Tele online school, which was created in 2014 on Rustam Minnikhanov’s instruction and is funded by Tatarstan’s budget, received a message that speaking classes would be suspended from 30 October. This means that all materials and tasks will be available, but one will have to refuse communication with a teacher. Moreover, the project’s fate isn’t clear — the school that was to exist for just four years hopes that it will keep working next year too. However, the platform of Ana Tele (Editor’s Note: which stands for Mother Tongue in Tatar) is obviously obsolete and needs modernisation.

How Ana Tele cancelled the limit of 10,000 people

The project Ana Tele began to form in 2013 on Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov’s instruction. It is a brainchild of several organisations — the Tatarstan Ministry of Education and Science and EF Education First (the company’s international centre had been working for almost two years in Kazan).

The republic’s budget was the source of the project’s finance. Nobody has pronounced the amount, for instance, the programme Conservation of National Identity of the Tatars (2020-2023) has a line Accompaniment to Ana Tele Online Tatar Language Teaching Educational Project (it is clearly a part of the costs), and 2,151,000 rubles were allocated in 2020. Money isn’t calculated for the next years. When the project was launched, Ana Tele was going to develop for some four years. Nevertheless, the school itself hopes they will work in 2021 too, which was declared the Year of Mother Tongues by the republic’s president.

The project’s start was announced on 4 February 2014. The online school has nine levels — one can know one’s level when signing up. So there are four levels — A1, A1, B1, B2. The project contains 288 videos, 10,950 audios, 6,795 graphic files, about a thousand tasks, 72 topics. The interface is Russian, English and Tatar.

It is known that several years ago the Tatarstan Ministry of Education and Science sent a request to educational organisations to create a new electronic platform to learn the Tatar language. There is no result yet, but Ana Tele, undoubtedly, requires improvement. The school has obvious downsides. Its method isn’t updated, people only above 14 years can study (though the basics of a language should be founded in early childhood), the EF platform itself needs to be updated according to modern interactive standards (for instance, the website doesn’t have even a mobile version).

Diasporas come to learn Tatar

It wasn’t easy to get to Ana Tele at first — the number of students was limited to 10,000. It was said that representatives of diasporas from 34 countries were registered in the project. People who wanted to learn the language received such a message then: “Thanks for registration. Unfortunately, licences aren’t available now. EF will email you as soon as they appear”. Surveyed teachers from Moscow and Petersburg noted they didn’t use the platform. Moreover, they said that local autonomies in the capital received a plan for the number of registered students. Another anonymous source said that there were students and teenagers whose tasks had to be performed by teachers.

In the last years, the number of participants in the project isn’t limited. As Aygul Basyrova, head of promotion of Ana Tele project says that the number of students is 26,500 people now. So 21,500 people have signed up over the year.

We asked her why they suspended the virtual classes and why they were so few:

“It is a bureaucratic issue. It is linked with the budget, the Ministry of Education and Science allocates a certain amount of money for the teachers. So not all users can take advantage of speaking classes. We are suspending it because there are payment issues.”

The Ministry of Education and Science allocates a certain amount of money for the teachers. So not all users can take advantage of speaking classes
By Radif Kashapov