Updated at 15:40,13-12-2017

Belarusian-language establishments make up no more than six percent of total number of schools, activist says

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The share of schools of general education where all subjects are taught in Belarusian is five to six percent of the total number, Tamara Matskevich, deputy chair of the Francisak Skaryna Belarusian Language Society (BLS), told BelaPAN.

"Maybe, there are more establishments with the formal status of Belarusian-language school, but they often lack Belarusian-language textbooks, that's why physics, mathematics and other subjects are taught in Russian there," she said.

As many as 130 schools of general education, mostly Belarusian-language ones based in rural areas, have been closed down in Belarus this year, Ms. Matskevich said.

The BLS is constantly contacted by parents seeking to send their children to a Belarusian-language school. "But in recent years we have been unable to offer them any help. They cannot create or find a Belarusian-language school. The government denies them the constitutional right to receive education in Belarusian," she said.

The activist accused the authorities of conducting a purposeful policy to bar the use of Belarusian in education. According to her, the authorities should create ways to make it possible for people to exercise the right to receive education in Belarusian.

"Today only smart people, the country's elite so to say, understand the prospects of the Belarusian language. They would have their children taught in Belarusian, such schools would become prestigious and develop gradually, and no compulsion is needed here," said Ms. Matskevich.

Speaking to reporters in mid-August, Education Minister Syarhey Maskevich said that today's youth prefer to study in the language that improves their prospects in life. "At present it is the Russian language that gives better job prospects in our country, so it is justifiable to teach science subjects in it," he said.