Language education and national identity in Ukraine : an historical analysis
Lominska, Natalia V.
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This thesis is an historical analysis of the development of language education in Ukraine. It is designed to show the significance of language in the development of a new national identity. Ukraine was deprived of sovereignty for centuries. In different periods of history, it was partitioned among foreign countries and its people were subjected to foreign economic, political, cultural, and language influences. In the nineteenth century, Ukraine was under Polish, Austro- Hungarian, and Russian rule and was subjected to Polonization, Russification, and Magyarization. The Russian government did not even recognize Ukrainians as a distinct nationality. Between the World Wars, the country was partitioned among Czechoslovakia, Poland, Rumania, and the USSR. Bukovyna, under the Rumanian rule, was subjected to the Rumanianization policy of the educational system. The Polonization of Galicia was almost complete before World War II. Only seven percent of Ukrainian children attended native schools. Soviet Ukraine saw the rise and fall of a Ukrainianization policy. In the 1930s, Stalin used Russification to control the people of the Soviet empire. In the 1980s, Russian was the dominant language of instruction, particularly in Eastern Ukraine and in all urban centers. The goal of such a Russification policy was the creation of a new union of "soviet people." Not surprisingly, Ukraine became an independent state without a modem nation or a unified political community within its borders. The creation of a modem nation and national identity is of critical importance for Ukraine. Language is perceived as an important determinant of cultural cohesiveness and loyalty to the newly independent state. At the same time, however, militant demands for language exclusivity can only lead to divisiveness and strife. This thesis provides an in-depth analysis of the development of language-education policy during different periods of Ukraine’s history, emphasizing the importance of the national language in the development of a new Ukrainian nation and identity, and drawing attention to the issue of minority rights.