«Russian language still occupies in Tajikistan a very important place. It is used in many professional spheres, but the proficiency level is being reduced in comparison with other Central Asian countries», -notes a political analyst Muslimbek Buriev in his article written specifically for analytical platform CABAR.asia.Русский
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Summary of the article:
- During the USSR, knowledge of Russian was a prime advantage for a career and was providing an opportunity to join the world culture;
- Now, Russian in Tajikistan is the language of interethnic communication;
- Russian language has a solid status in the field of education; hours for learning Russian are allocated on a mandatory basis;
- Teaching of Russian language is not only as a compulsory subject, but also as part of additional training for those who plan to leave for work in Russia;
- Russian language has become a cultural and educational tool of soft power, aimed at preserving Russia’s influence;
- Despite rather positive assessments regarding the official status of Russian language, there is a shortage in terms of language environment for its more effective learning in Tajikistan.
In order to fully assess the position of language, the number of people who actively use it in everyday life and the number of Russian language schools are usually analyzed. But to get the whole picture we should not forget about the internal state policy, and external interactions with Russia, and how this affects the language relations within the country. In this article, the author will try to assess the main trends in the development of Russian language in Tajikistan, identify problems and discuss possible solutions. Language of interethnic communication During the USSR, knowledge of Russian was a prime advantage for a career and was providing an opportunity to join the world culture. Russian language served as a kind of mediator connecting Tajikistan and the rest of the world, since literature and scientific works of foreign authors were published mainly in Russian throughout the territory of the Soviet Union. Now, Russian in Tajikistan is the language of interethnic communication. This status is formalized in the Constitution of the country. This means that Russian language is used in Tajikistan, not limited in any way, and anyone who speaks it can freely use it in all aspects of their life activities. However, Russian language in the country has lost its position in comparison to the Soviet period. This is due to the outflow of Russian-speaking population after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the civil war that followed, and with the nation building policy in general. The formation of a new approach to the language issue began in 1989, when the Law of the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic “On Language” was adopted. The document obliged officials and civil servants to use only Tajik language in the records management and documentation as a whole. This process marked the beginning of nation building, which was promoted by the activity of national democratic forces during the glasnost period, including intelligentsia, clergy and youth. However, no one was going to abandon Russian language and the government that gave it the status of interethnic communication language understood this. In fact, it is still the same now, as in Soviet times and in the period of independence, Russian remains the main language for many other ethnic groups living in the country, including Tatars, Ossetians, Ukrainians, Koreans and remaining contingent of ethnic Russians. Russian is still relevant Despite the fact that about 70% of Russian-speaking population left Tajikistan in the early 1990s, Russian language is used inside the country in many areas, including business, arts and journalism. Russian-language media, local newspapers, online platforms and radio stations, as well as Russian television channels are popular in the country. Russian language has a key importance in the academic sphere, since the scientific and qualification works of Tajik academicians have the right to pass a commission through the All-Russian Certifying Commission. In accordance with this, all such works must be submitted in Russian. Such an approach is highly popular among local scientists, since Russian education is highly valued, and the scientific expertise awarded by All-Russian Certifying Commission adds prestige. The local All-Russian Certifying Commission has been functioning since 2011. Since 2017 it accepts works only in Russian or in English at the order of the Tajik Ministry of Education and Science.
- Increase the number of hours for teaching Russian in Tajik-language schools. The work in this direction is already underway; however, it should be assessed how effective such a measure would be. It requires some time to identify changes.
- Improve the training of Russian language teachers among local students of pedagogical departments. A possible option is to allocate scholarships for training in such disciplines, including in Russian universities.
- With this option, the mechanism of graduates’ distribution to ready positions should be strengthened. A job guarantee can be quite attractive, including for those who have studied outside the country.
Considering the topic of this article outside the above perspective, one can say that Russian language with a relatively low proficiency level among the population plays an important role in Tajikistan’s life. It is used in many areas, and it still plays a kind of intermediary role, as in Soviet times. Russian language is quite firmly rooted in urban environments, and the demand for Russian-language education is quite high. It is not necessary to talk about its fading situation. However, it is not yet possible to talk about returning to the previous practice of its use. Russian language in Tajikistan remains the language of interethnic communication and is used mainly in those areas where it rooted. Usmonov, R. 2011, Russian language in culture and politics of Tajikistan, Language. Language arts. Culture http://publishing-vak.ru/file/archive-philology-2011-2/1-usmonov.pdf  Constitution of the Republic of Tajikistan, Article 2, http://www.president.tj/ru/taxonomy/term/5/112  Law of the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic “on language”, http://www.medialaw.asia/document/-261  Law of the Republic of Tajikistan on the State Language of the Republic of Tajikistan, http://www.kumitaizabon.tj/ru/content/zakon-respubliki-tadzhikistan-o-gosudarstvennom-yazyke-respubliki-tadzhikistan  Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan and the Government of Russian Federation on cooperation in the field of certification of highly qualified scientific personnel, http://www.anrt.tj/ru/ob-akademii/attestatsionnaya-komissiya-rt  A dissertation in Tajikistan will have to be defended in Russian or English, Radio Ozodi, 09.11.2017, http://rus.ozodi.org/a/28843841.html  Borishpolets, K., RUSSIAN LANGUAGE IN THE CENTRAL ASIAN REGION, MGIMO University Bulletin, 2 (35) http://www.vestnik.mgimo.ru/sites/default/files/pdf/borishpolec.pdf  Nagzibekova, M.B. 2008, Russian language in Tajikistan, Slavica Helsingiensia 35. With love to word / Festschriftin Honor of the Arto Mustajoki on the Occasion of his 60th Birthday. Ed. by Jouko Lindstedt et al. – Helsinki, http://www.helsinki.fi/slavicahelsingiensia/preview/sh35/pdf/20.pdf  Ibid.  Usmonov, R. 2011, Russian language in culture and politics of Tajikistan, Language. Language arts. Culture http://publishing-vak.ru/file/archive-philology-2011-2/1-usmonov.pdf  The great and mighty Russian language in Tajik realities, Asia-Plus, 05/24/2017 https://news.tj/en/news/tajikistan/society/20170524/velikii-i-moguchii-russkii-yazik-v-tadzhikskih-realiyah  Lebedeva, M., 2014 “SOFT POWER” IN REGARD TO CENTRAL ASIA: PARTICIPANTS AND THEIR ACTIONS, MGIMO Bulletin, №2 (35) http://www.vestnik.mgimo.ru/sites/default/files/pdf /lebedeva.pdf  Torkunov, A., 2012, Education as a tool of “soft power” in Russian foreign policy, MGIMO University Bulletin, 4 (25) http://www.vestnik.mgimo.ru/sites/default/files/pdf/ 74217507.pdf  Pyanov, A., 2011, STATUS OF RUSSIAN LANGUAGE IN THE CIS COUNTRIES, Bulletin of KemSU No. 3 (47), http://www.philology.ru/linguistics2/pyanov-11.htm  Ibid.  60 teachers from Russia will teach children in schools of Tajikistan since September 1, 2018, Sputnik, 05.23.2018 https://tj.sputniknews.ru/main/20180523/1025655671/rossiya-uvelichit-chislo-uchiteley-prepodavat- tajikistan.html  Russia will open five schools in Tajikistan to promote Russian language, Russia for all, 07.08.2018 https://tjk.rus4all.ru/education/20180807/728728926.html  Faskhutdinov, G., There will be more Russian language in Tajikistan: teachers remain to be found, Deutsche Welle 07/09/2015 https://www.dw.com/ru/russkogo-yazyka-v-tadzhikistane-stanet-bol’she-ostalos’-nayti-uchiteley /a-18572263  Asia-Plus, 12/01/2017, “Expert: After the collapse of the USSR, about 1% of 1.5 million Tajik schoolchildren got education in Russian” https://news.tj/news/tajikistan/society/20170112/ekspert-posle-raspada-sssr-poluchili-obrazovanie-na-russkom-yazike-okolo-1-iz-15-mln-tadzhikskih-shkolnikov  Kudoyarova, 2010 T. PROBLEMS OF FUNCTIONING AND LEARNING RUSSIAN LANGUAGE IN POST-SOVIET TAJIKISTAN, RUDN Bulletin, Russian and foreign languages and training methods, No. 1, https://cyberleninka.ru/article/n/problemy-funktsionirovaniya- i-izucheniya-russkogo-yazyka-v-postsovetskom-tadzhikistane  Olimova S., 2010 The Capital of Migration on Human Capital: The Case of Tajikistan, Rev. européenne des migrations internationals vol.26 No. 3 https://journals.openedition.org/remi/5239?lang=en
This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project implemented with the financial support of the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The opinions expressed in the article do not reflect the position of the editorial or donor.