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UN recommendations on minority education include the Minority SafePack

The European Commission should elaborate specific legislative proposals based on the language-related and education-related provisions of the Minority Safepack Initiative – says one of the recommendations of the European Regional Forum on Education, Language and the Human Rights of Minorities. The recommendations of the Regional Forum, held in May this year in Brussels were presented last week by UN Special Rapportuer on Minority Issues, Mr. Fernand de Varennes. The forum was developed jointly by the Special Rapporteur and a consortium of non-governmental organizations working for the human rights of minorities in Europe. FUEN president Loránt Vincze and the members of FUEN’s Education Working Group played an active role in the forum, with many of their proposals ending up in the recommendations.

The document claims that the European Union should ensure that a language policy supportive of minority languages is part of its mission, including long-term financial support for programs related to the education in and teaching of minority languages. Futrhermore, a European Union directive on minimum standards for minorities should be adopted to take the first steps for the collective enforcement of the language rights of minorities in education enshrined in international and regional human rights treaties, including the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages;

The recommendations say that States must guarantee the right of minority language students to use their mother tongue as the medium of education at all levels of schooling (as far as is practicable). This should generally follow a sliding scale or proportionality approach. At a minimum, linguistic minorities should have the opportunity of learning their own language where it is not possible to use a minority language as medium of instruction. It also says that States must provide the conditions and opportunities for minorities to learn and understand the culture and language of the majority community. Members of a linguistic majority should also be provided with the conditions and opportunities to learn the culture and language of linguistic minorities.

Private schools, colleges, universities and other educational establishments must not be prohibited from teaching in minority languages; where state funding is provided to private educational establishments, such funding must also be provided to these establishments; diplomas, certificates and other academic achievement results from private and public minority education establishments shall be recognized by educational and other public authorities – the document points out.

The document also has a list of recommendations regarding pedagogical approaches, youth opportunities and management, including curricula and teacher training and development.

The document can be downloaded from here.