Will the government of Tatarstan be able to teach in Tatar language and create an environment for its use?

The results of the press conference of Irada Ayupova and the All-Russian Congress of Teachers of the Tatar Language

This week, Kazan has hosted the 8th All-Russian Congress of Teachers of the Tatar Language, and the summer press conference of Minister of Culture of Tatarstan Irada Ayupova has taken place at the Kazan Art School. The topic of education became the main one for the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya at both events: imperceptibly, the events of the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education rhymed and indicated the ways of development along which they need to go together.

“The future of our culture is somehow connected with enlightenment and education”

Irada Ayupova held a press conference in two formats. First, she arranged a tour for journalists around the updated Feshin Art School, which has so far been defended in the case of its accession to the Kazan Federal University. Entering through the historic doors, Ayupova took a portable megaphone and began the story with the stories of some of the first educational institutions of Kazan, choosing mentoring as the topic of her speech.

“In my excursion, I wanted to take a vector for enlightenment. I'm just sure that the future of the elite is an enlightened elite. The future of our culture (and culture, in essence, is a civilisation) one way or another is connected with enlightenment and education," the minister said.

This leitmotif was sometimes picked up by the director of the Kazan Art School, Olga Gilmutdinova, for example, showing the student works of Nikolay Feshin and noting that the student first copies the work of his master and then seeks to find his own path.

A significant part of the school is still waiting for restoration, but the floors have already been reinforced in the ballroom. Last year, reconstruction works were completed in the southern part of the school, and the press conference itself was held there. The foundation was strengthened here, the entrance group, beams under the roof, tiles on the floor were preserved, the roof was repaired and the wooden ceiling was partially restored, half of it had to be recreated anew. The third floor looks especially impressive, where the sun shines through the inclined windows into the workshops.

Now the north and the centre are next in line. The next stage will cost 600 million, they are looking for money for it.

In the southern part, it is planned to open a school of creative industries for teenagers from 12 to 17 years old, where they will be taught on a budget basis (the school won a grant of 58 million rubles from the Presidential Fund for Cultural Initiatives). At the same time, as Gilmutdinova explained, the principle of selection, which did not suit her at first, will be as follows: “whoever first applied, he or she will be accepted.” So, apparently, it is necessary to monitor social networks, since there are only 80 places, for four groups: virtual reality, design, animation, photo and video products. The plans include a fashion design and decorative arts studio.

“I'll be honest — I don't like the Unified State Exam”

Fashion was actively discussed at the press conference, besides, the ministry has several projects in this area — the Altyn Khesite competition, Cultural Code-Lifestyle festival.

“For several years we have been studying our Tatar costume, and not only Tatar, but also the peoples living on the territory of Tatarstan," Ayupova noted, pointing out that the tradition is the most innovative and cultural feature that quickly adapts to changes in the habitat.

“It is important to form an interesting competence when you create a new one, but you rely on tradition," the minister pointed out, also complaining that people are embarrassed about their national identity in the republic. This also applies to communication in their native language, Ayupova added later:

“The fear of wearing a Tatar costume, the fear of why we don't speak the language — we are afraid that they will tell us that we are doing something wrong.”

The question from our publication was the following: does the Ministry of Culture feel guilty about that this year only one student chose the exam in the Tatar language for the Unified State Exam?

“I'll be honest — I don't like the Unified State Exam. This is my opinion. I just think that the Unified State Exam is not an indicator at all. People are different, it's no secret that people who are emotional enough pass the Unified State Exam worse, and the Unified State Exam is not a measure of knowledge. The USE is taken to choose the path of their subsequent career guidance. You need to think about this, not about how many people passed the Unified State Exam. I do not have information for which direction I need to pass the Unified State Exam in Tatar.”

“Look, you were talking about the design of the Tatar costume. Is it possible to assume that a person will make a good design without knowing the Tatar language?" the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya asked.

“I think that the preservation of the language does not lie much in the plane of the Unified State Exam. It lies more in the plane of the environment. If there is an environment where the language is in demand, then there will be development," the minister concluded. After that, Ayupova agreed that there should be motivation to take the Unified State Exam in her native language and offered to see what could be done in this direction.

“Future teachers of the Tatar language and literature will receive additional specialisation 'Russian language”

Meanwhile, Adilya Shaykhutdinova, who lives in the village of Norma in the Baltasinsky district, who chose the Unified State Exam in the Tatar language, wants to become a teacher. If in 2008 385 people took the exam in Tatar in the republic, then in 2016 — 67, in 2020 — 9. In 2022 — 1.

The congress of her future colleagues began with the arrival of participants on June 27 and the screening of the film “Fountain Pen” to continue working in sections with master classes, presentations, trainings in a variety of educational institutions — from Lyceum No. 187 on Naziba Zhiganova Street to the kindergarten No. 405 on Chetaeva Street. There were also very well-known schools outside Kazan, such as the multilingual complex “Adymnar — the way to knowledge and harmony” and the gymnasium No. 12 with the Tatar language of instruction named after Fatikha Aitova.

As expected, teachers were offered a lot of useful educational materials that could be downloaded using QR codes, as well as speeches at the plenary session and the draft resolution. Thanks to this, the speakers' speeches can be quoted without fear of making a mistake. We will do the same.

It should be noted that some speeches were given to delegates in Russian, for example, by Radif Zamaletdinov, the director of the Institute of Philology and Intercultural Communication of the Kazan (Volga) Federal University.

“Recently, the number of students who came from other subjects of the Russian Federation has significantly decreased," the director noted in his report. “Currently, there study students and undergraduates who came from the republics of Bashkortostan, Chuvashia, Mari El, as well as Penza Oblast, Kirov Oblast, Orenburg Oblast, Tyumen Oblast, Astrakhan Oblast, from foreign countries — Turkey, Korea, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, China. Their number can be seen on the screen.”

Besides, Zamaletdinov said that this year the recruitment of students for two programmes in the field of Tatar language and literature has been announced.

“Taking into account that Russian language teachers are needed in the republic and in Kazan, future teachers of the Tatar language and literature will receive an additional specialisation 'Russian language'," said the director.

“Of course, these are not the figures to be proud of”

According to Ramis Safin, the chairman of the executive committee of the public organisation “Ulyanovsk Regional Tatar National and Cultural Autonomy”, in the census of 20 years ago, there were 170 thousand Tatars in their region, and now he represents 150 thousand people.

“This year, 12,074 Tatar children received knowledge in the schools of the Ulyanovsk region. Of these, 4,800 children study the Tatar language in lessons, in clubs, and in extracurricular activities. As you can see, about 7 thousand children are still deprived of learning their native language," Safin explained, adding that, despite the resistance of the local ministry, but thanks to the pressure of the Tatarstan one, the following clause appeared in the agreement between the two organisations: “The Ministry of Education and Upbringing of the Ulyanovsk Region creates conditions for learning the Tatar language in educational institutions institutions of the Ulyanovsk Region”.

Safin also said that last year, as a member of the Public Chamber of the city, he joined the commission for the acceptance of schools for the new academic year and there he saw a folder with applications from parents in the director's office.

“I see that in many schools, it is already written 'Russian' in the column about the native language. And this is a gross violation of federal law," Safin pointed out.

Safin also said that the closure of Tatar schools in villages is doubly hard to worry about, since after that children begin to be taken by bus to a neighbouring Chuvash or Russian village.

“This is already a different environment, a different upbringing. One can only dream about learning Tatar.”

Guzel Sagitova, the deputy head of the Executive Committee of Kazan, said that 148,651 children study in 169 schools in Kazan. 82,438 students study Tatar in their native language lessons.

“Of course, these are not the figures to be proud of, there is no place for special joy. Whether we want it or not, the events of 2017 have made their own adjustments to national education," said the deputy head of the executive committee.

“Our task is not pressure, but motivation, not coercion, but the creation of new opportunities. In this regard, last year we launched a series of seminars in the TED format for teachers of the Tatar language," Sagitova said in her speech. “The main purpose of these meetings is to make Tatar language lessons more interesting and effective. The speakers introduced the world's leading methods and practices in teaching English and Japanese. Here I would like to make an announcement: these seminars can be viewed on the website of Achyk University.”

Sagitova also pointed out that the seminars were supported by the Commission under the President of the Republic of Tatarstan on the preservation and development of the Tatar language and native languages of representatives of peoples living in the Republic of Tatarstan (it has had such a long name since the summer of this year). Sagitova plans to make the same project for the heads of kindergartens.

“A lot depends on chiefs, perhaps it all starts with them. If a chief has a desire to work, he will be able to ignite the desire to work in others, gather the most skilled around him or train worthy national cadres," Sagitova noted.

Tatar language — in an online school

Thanks to a grant from the committee, it was possible to start implementing the most ambitious project, the idea of which was proposed by the director of the Tatar gymnasium No. 2 named after Shigabutdin Mardzhani at the Kazan Federal University, Ramil Gaynullin (in fact, the only exemplary Tatar school in the capital of the republic).

The “Tatar online school” project will consist of five modules: module of preschool education, module of general education, module of additional education, module of a modern leader, module of science and culture. There are already lessons for elementary school students in the disciplines of the surrounding world and mathematics, as well as for students studying in grades 5 — 8 in subjects such as mathematics, geometry, algebra, computer science, biology, chemistry, history and physics. The plans include social studies, geography, Tatar language, physical education, robotics, programming, and 3D modelling.

As Gaynullin explained to Realnoe Vremya, at first they started making the site on enthusiasm, then a grant for 3 million appeared. The project is aimed not only at children who cannot get an education in Tatar, but also as an additional material for schoolchildren with native language lessons so that they can safely repeat everything at home. It is planned that the school will also have a mobile application, since everyone has phones, but not everyone can afford a laptop.

“Now I talked with a representative of the new Russian educational platform, I hope we will be able to implement our project there, if we are allowed to post content in the Tatar language there," Gaynullin shared his plans.

Radif Kashapov

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