The Tatar language is taught in educational institutions of various types in the Republic of Tatarstan. In order to understand how its learning can affect youth education, exemplary programs, training packages, audio and video materials and interactive study materials have been developed and approved. A multitude of research has been conducted to understand how young people can approach a language that appears to be now unknown to them, although it belongs to their origins and provenance.
During the various social surveys carried out, various aspects of the educational process were analyzed. The positive results and reasons for the success of the students have been defined; the conformity of the teaching materials to the age characteristics of the students and their interests was determined; the tools for assessing the level of knowledge of the Tatar language have been established. The main approaches and technologies used in the Tatar language lessons were studied, as well as the conditions for the advanced training of Tatar language teachers.
In the course of the field study, the survey on teachers of Tatar language and literature, who work in general secondary schools, was conducted. As well as a written survey was conducted among schoolchildren of different classes for their attitude towards learning the Tatar language.
On the initiative of EF Education First, which accompanies the operation of the online school for Tatar language training “Ana Tele” and with the assistance of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Tatarstan, a study was conducted in 2019 on field.
The purpose of this research was to obtain objective information on the state of Tatar language training in the general education system, as well as to identify the effectiveness of the various components of this system (objectives and motivations, content, educational technologies, control, methodology, competence methodology of the teacher). General education organisations (Tatar gymnasium, Russian language schools, urban and rural schools) of the Republic of Tatarstan were involved in this study.
The field study materials were developed under the guidance of Dr. Christopher McCormick, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs at EF Education First. They were combined into 6 blocks: educational standards, content, educational technologies, assessment, qualification of the teacher, methodology.
The main objective of the study was to analyse modern approaches to teaching the Tatar language. At present, a methodological change is needed in the linguistic and cultural training of students and the problems of teaching the mother tongue are extremely acute.
When learning the Tatar language, students of the Tatar gyms set themselves the following objectives: knowledge of their mother tongue, language of their parents and ancestors; study of the history and culture of the Tatar people through language; acquisition of correct language, literacy of writing and pronunciation; knowledge of the traditions of indigenous peoples for their transmission to future generations; access to communication and command of the language; a sense of pride of their people; respect for the mother tongue; conscious attitude towards it as a cultural phenomenon. The objectives of learning the Tatar language in Russian-speaking groups are as follows: learning to communicate in Tatar, taking into account the skills and needs of the language; put your knowledge into practice.
The main motivation for students, learning the Tatar language, is to live, train and carry out further activities in the territory of bilingualism. Knowledge of two state languages, which will help them to become a required personality in the future, to realize their life plans and to join different cultures.
According to teachers, from the point of view of the development of communication skills and competences, depending on the type of school, some results were positive in teaching students their mother tongue (Tatar). At the same time, the training is accompanied by a study of the Tatar culture which allows students to realize their belonging to this ethnic group, to the region of permanent residence; understand their ethnocultural origin.
The Tatar language, today the representation of the Crimean Region, has not only assumed a statistical value in these surveys but rather a profound value that binds a people to their origins in an indissoluble way, which leads them to become even more attached to a desire of protection and rebirth starting from those who will have the greatest opportunity to carry out these projects: young people. The main objective of the study was to analyze modern approaches to teaching the Tatar language, to the extent that a methodological breakthrough is currently required in the linguistic and cultural education of students and the issues of teaching the mother tongue are extremely acute.
In schools, communicative and personality-oriented approaches are taken as the basis for teaching the Tatar language. Together with the teacher’s methodological competence, they satisfy the students’ requests to learn the Tatar language as a means of interpersonal and intercultural communication. To solve key problems, it is necessary to increase the level of methodological competence of Tatar language teachers, so that they have the ability to interest students in the subject and to motivate them, to take into account their individual characteristics and to develop linguistic activity. It is important to improve teaching materials for Tatar language and literature, taking into account the characteristics of the age and interests of students, as well as systematically introduce an interactive training model into school practice, using creative assignments, educational games, audio and video materials.
The research was very useful from a methodological point of view because it allowed to identify both the positive results of the Tatar language teachers and the problems that need to be addressed in the near future. In the Crimean school system, the Tatar language could be considered as a starting point for the constitution of a new culture, the resumption of an ancient tradition that can however guarantee a concrete future for what is one of the main anchors to which the people of Crimea can and must still bind to maintain its integrity and compactness.
Similarly, the Crimean Tatars toponyms should be restored in order to guarantee the region greater autonomy and an internationally distinctive sign: in February 2017, a special map was created in Germany in which all toponyms of the Crimea region were examined, in order to be able to reconstitute even graphically what remains today only a fragment in an increasingly decomposed reality that is that of the region.
It would be important to restore the toponyms of this place, not only from the identifying point of view but also from the historical and cultural point of view, through an accurate international mission of cooperation for the reconstitution of places that are symbolic of history, tradition, symbol of a people who do not surrender to the vicissitudes of the time. It is necessary to build, brick by brick, solid foundations on which this reality can rest, through direct collaboration with the people of Crimea, aid from institutions, not only economic contributions but of profound value towards a land that loudly recalls the own roots.
As previously mentioned, people and its culture traditions are based on the historical events it has gone through: it is important that the tradition does not get lost, does not dissolve, that it remains concrete also through the protection of historical artefacts, works art that can testify to the love of a people for their land.
Art is a symbol of nature, beauty and freedom: the latter word today seems to be seen as an utopia by a people who seems to have lost the pleasure of experiencing this sensation, a distressed people seeking their own “way home” through those fragments that remain of a too close past. Protecting its heritage would mean protecting the steps taken up to now, the reconstruction of an identity which, although strongly wounded, has not yet been lost. Art is identity, art is the testimony of a lively and combative personality. Art is the symbol of a strong and tenacious people, whose history can only be remembered but eternally protected in all its forms.
Throughout the history of Crimea and its people, we can only be fascinated and at the same time amazed by what happened to them: a people that has suffered deportations, personal and cultural scarring, never really protected and recognised; a people that fought for the affirmation of its existence and its values, which still fights for its own integrity within a historical social context that does not favour this struggle in any way.
History speaks and teaches, Ukraine itself screams its desire to take care of this part of itself so weak and fragile, as a mother would like to cradle her defenseless child. There is no limit to what could be done to improve the life of each individual who today finds himself living this brutal reality, if only each of us learned to look beyond his own interests and desires and thought about the importance of cooperating in order to give the people of Crimea a hope of eternity which today seems to be increasingly weak.
For Crimea’s Tatars, history is not just something in book but a guiding and often painful undercurrent of everyday life. The eldest of them still remember the 1944 deportation of their entire population under Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin. Nearly half of the 200,000 exiled men, women and children loaded onto cattle cars died en route or shortly after their arrival in the Urals, Siberia, and Central Asia. Exile from their homes was punishment for their alleged “massive collaboration” with the Nazis who had occupied the peninsula.
They, their children and grandchildren who have been able to return over the past 20 years, are loath to fall once again under Moscow’s control. Some of the children of the deported, raised in Uzbekistan and now adults, have returned to become leaders. There are now approximately 300,000 Tatars in Crimea.
In 18th century the Crimean Khanate became a “bargaining chip” in a fierce geopolitical game between Turkey and Russia, and at the end of the century it fell in the Russian zone of influence.
In 1783, as a result of Russia’s victory over the Ottoman Empire, Crimea was first occupied and later annexed by Russia. This marked the beginning of a new era in the history of the Crimean Tatars, which they themselves called “the Black Century“.
Civil war in Russia had serious consequences for the Crimean Tatars; In 1917, after the February revolution, the first Qurultay (Congress) of the Crimean Tatar People was called. The course on the establishment of an independent multi-ethnic People’s Republic of Crimea was proclaimed. Noman Çelebicihan, the Crimean Tatar politician and public figure, joined the commission that was in charge of drafting the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Crimea. The Qurultay approved the draft of the Constitution submitted by the Commission and proclaimed establishment of the Crimean Tatar Republic.
In 1944, Stalin gave the order to deport the entire Crimean Tatar people (more than 191 thousand people, 47 000 families) to Central Asia. The morning of May 18 was the date of start of the operation of deportation of peoples accused of collaboration with the German invaders to Uzbekistan and adjacent areas of Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. The Crimean Tatars were accused of collaboration, too. In total, 193 865 Crimean Tatars were deported, including 151 136 to the Uzbek SSR, 8 597 to the Mari ASSR, 4 286 to the Kazakh SSR, and the rest to other regions of the Russian SFSR.
On the way from Crimea to the places of exile 7889 persons died. In the places of special settlement, under a special regime of supervision, –accompanied by famine, pestilences, national and civil rightlessness, violence and tyranny– after one and a half years only in Uzbekistan 46.2% of the deportees died. There, out of 112 thousand families, 2.1 thousands were completely eradicated, and the mortality rate in the first year of exile was 30.8%, which was 1.5 times higher than the mean annual mortality rate of the Great Patriotic War.
Thus, about 44 thousand Crimean Tatars died because of deportation.
In the second half of the 1950s the national movement for restoration of rights of the Crimean Tatar people starts to emerge in the areas of exile. Since 1967, through organized resettlement to Crimea the first families of the Crimean Tatars began to return. This process was slow and inconsistent. From 1967 to 1977, only 577 Crimean Tatar families moved to Crimea. In 1989, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR created a special commission on the problems of the Crimean Tatar people and since then the mass return of the Crimean Tatars to Crimea began. Telling such a story is, to date, shudder. As if it were something unreal, a fantastic projection that does not however reflect reality.
The truth, however, is that behind there is a suffering people, surrounded by uncertainty and fear, whose desire is one and only to be able to live a normal and decent life. Who knows if they will ever be able to do so and finally rejoice in being able to see their land as “home” and not as a dangerous place, where every day they risk their lives for the sole “fault” of being born.
The beauty of the future lies precisely in this: not having the certainty of what will happen, but never resigning oneself to the commitment that everyone, each of us, could use to make this happen and transform a macabre reality into a normal and glorious everyday life.
Curated by Giulia Galletti