Chechnya to Start Teaching Math in Chechen Language

Chechnya's schools will start teaching mathematics in the Chechen language, officials said -- the latest move by President Ramzan Kadyrov to broaden the region's autonomy.

The decision will apparently make Chechnya the first area of all Russia to teach a major subject in public school in a language other than Russian.

Following Kadyrov's calls for wider use of Chechen language in education, the region's education minister, Anzor Muzayev, announced this week that schools will begin teaching mathematics in Chechen starting from the first grade. Muzayev did not say why math was chosen, and no changes were announced in other subjects.

"We must take responsibility so that our children don't lose our traditions and our native tongue," Muzayev said.

The move has drawn criticism from schoolteachers and parents in Chechnya who are concerned that a hasty transition to the native tongue could hurt the quality of education and make it more difficult for the Chechen children to adapt in other Russian provinces.

Malika Dadayeva, 60, an elementary school teacher in the village of Nadterechnoye in northern Chechnya, said Chechen simply lacks words for mathematical terms. "Children won't get the proper education," she said.

Dadayeva said local officials had ignored teachers' arguments against the planned switch to Chechen.

Liza Mamakayeva, a 40-year-old art teacher from Grozny, also dismissed the planned change as "ill-considered." She said a switch to the Chechen language would make it more difficult for children to move to another Russian region.

"They will have to learn everything from the start," she said. "I'm happy, at least, that my own children have grown up and won't have to go through that."

Chechens, conquered by Russia in the 19th century, used Arabic letters before switching to the Latin alphabet after the Bolshevik Revolution and to Cyrillic in the 1930s.