UERA builds bridges to break stereotypes and prejudicies


Ukrainian Educational Research Association is launching the project “Building Bridges to Break Stereotypes and Prejudices”

In terms of the borderlands-related research, the UERA has recently been involved in two projects dealing with the problematic language issue with Romanian and Hungarian national minorities at the borderlands.

The rationale behind the current project lays in the situation in Ukraine that emerged after accepting Article 7 of Ukrainian law “On Education” that states that “the language of the educational process at institutions of education is the state language”. It caused some tension on behalf of the Romanian minority in the Chernivtsi region, who claimed that it significantly violates the fundamental right of the national minority to receive education in their mother tongue.

In the two previous UERA projects addressing the issue, the interdisciplinary group of experts have conducted 70 in-depth interviews, 6 focus groups and 4 roundtables with Romanian minority representatives and Ukrainians who reside at the borderland territories (high school students, teachers, principals, parents, educational authority representatives). Also, the team have made an analysis of printed and social media. As a result, we have a broad database of people and materials that express the position towards minorities at the borderlands with the principal focus on the language issue.

Among other issues the UERA team noted some stereotypes that are common among the borderland community. Some of them are:

(1). Romanian minority representatives in Ukraine do not speak Ukrainian.

(2). All young Romanian minority representatives do not want to learn Ukrainian as they connect their further life strategies with working abroad.

(3). Language Law ruins national minority schools.

(4). It is impossible to speak Ukrainian (as state language) and Romanian (as mother tongue) equally well.

Thus, we would like to take some practical steps which might help to build bridges to break the stereotypes and prejudices and disseminate the findings of our research to the broader community.

The dissemination is seen as a series of fоur media-bridges that will bring together borderland community representatives (the people will be selected from the database of the projects’ respondents).

The open discussion (on zoom platform) will be broadcast in Youtube, Instagram and in Facebook thus reaching different categories of audience and involving them in the discussion.

Each media bridge will be devoted to breaking one stereotype. Each media bridge will be followed by a post-release sent to different radio channels (in Ukrainian and Romanian) (Radio Cernăuți online – in the Romanian language; UA: Bukovyna – in the Ukrainian language; Radio Plus TB (in the Ukrainian and Romanian languages); Radio Ukraine International – in Romanian and English; Radio 10).

For each media bridge the team will prepare infographics based on research findings (interviews, focus groups and media analysis) and a short presentation of two published books: “At the Educational crossroads: Dialogue with National Minorities in Chernivtsi and Zakarpattia Regions”(2020), “Sociocultural Discourse on the Language of Teaching National Minorities in Chernivtsi Region” (2019).  

Thus, we hope to reach a broad community and explain the evidence-based research findings in easily understood language

Our project team has been checked by the previous projects and the people are:

Professor Svitlana Shchudlo, Drohobych

Assistant Professor Tetyana Medina, Chernivtsi

Assistant Professor Marin Gherman, Chernivtsi

The project coordinator is Professor Oksana Zabolotna.

The target audience we expect to reach are:

Population of Chernivtsi Region and Romanian borderlands

Broader public from other regions of Ukraine who have got some pieces of information from TV about the problem but do not have an in-depth understanding of it.

Different age groups and categories employed as speakers (students, teachers, principals, civil society representatives, journalists) will draw the attention of different public. Using multiple communication channels (Youtube, Facebook and Instagram) will reach different audience.

The language issue has been a burning problem for quite a long time and it has brought about a lot of heated and emotional discussion. So the idea of bridges and dialogue is essential here and to reach the purpose, the discussion mediators will have to be flexible and well-prepared to produce different kinds of research evidence that has come from people and now is returning to them.

The project sustainability will be ensured by establishing the UERA blog that will aim at conveying the information about the current research to broader public, by making the presentation easily understood.