Sorb minority in Germany expressing solidarity with the Udmurt minority in Russia
The Union of Lusatian Sorbs 'Domowina' (Germany) sent a letter of support to the Udmurt schoolchildren's parents who struggle against the decision of Russian authorities to close down the only school in the Udmurt capital with the instruction in the Udmurt language.
In its letter to the Information Centre of Finno-Ugric Peoples, the Domowina says that Lusatian Sorbs are struggling for the preservation of school education in their mother language in Germany, and therefore support the Udmurts in their struggle.
The Udmurts are the indigenous people of Udmurt Republic in the Russian Federation. In its capital city Izhkar (Izhevsk), the Kuzebay Gerd Grammar School was the only remaining school with the instruction in Udmurt language. The lengthy struggle of schoolchildren's parents for normal conditions for their children vas in vain: the children were removed to schools with the instruction in Russian.
"The smaller a nation, the more important children's education in mother tongue becomes. Regardless of the number of a nation, every person has the right to education in his mother tongue", the Union of Lusatian Sorbs says in its letter.
The Sorbs learnt about the Udmurt culture this year when the Udmurt folk group Aykay performed at the folklore festival Luzhica 2005.
Sorbs are a 60 thousand strong Slavic people living in Germany near to Lausits (Luzhica in Sorbian), in the fomer East-German Federal Lands of Brandenburg and Sachsen. The Sorbian language has Upper and Lower dialects, each having the literature form. The Sorbs have kindergardens, primary schools and one secondary school. Sorbian is taught as a subject in five other secondary schools as well.
The Udmurts, a Finno-Ugric people, live mostly in the Udmurt Republic, an administrative unit located 1200 km to the east of Moscow. According to the
2002 population census, there are 637 thousand of Udmurts, of whom 67 per cent speak the Udmurt language. Two-thirds of the Udmurts live in Udmurtia, and the rest in the adjacent republics of Bashkortostan and Tatarstan, and in the Perm and Kirov districts of the Russian Federation. The education policy of the Udmurt Republic has been to limit the teaching of Udmurt language, as a rule, to primary classes of rural schools only.