Russian Federation

Galina Kovaleva
Marina Kuznetsova
Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation
Institute for the Strategy of Education Development

Language and Literacy

The Russian Federation has one official state language: Russian.1 According to statistics from 2016, Russians account for 110.8 million of the national population of 146.5 million. Republics that are members of the Russian Federation have the right to have their own official languages, and there are 37 official languages in these republics. According to Chapter 14, “Language of Education,” of the federal law On Education in the Russian Federation, teaching and learning of the official languages of the republics of the Russian Federation can be introduced at educational organizations, which are located in those Republics.2 Teaching and learning the official languages of the republics should not be done at the expense of teaching and learning the official language of the Russian Federation. Chapter 14 also indicates that citizens of the Russian Federation have the right to receive preschool, elementary, and secondary education in their native language, which qualifies as one of the languages of the people of the Russian Federation. They also have the right to learn their native language as one of the languages of the people of the Russian Federation, within the constraints of the capabilities of the national educational system. Implementation of the above rights is executed by the creation of educational organizations, classes, and groups, as well as creation of the operational conditions for their functioning.

According to the last census in 2010, representatives of more than 180 nationalities and ethnic groups live in Russia. Russiaʼs population speaks 239 languages and dialects. Most students are taught in Russian; some students study one of 89 languages of national ethnic groups of the Russian Federation. In recent years, the number of schools with instruction in the native language has grown significantly in some regions.