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UNESCO Chair “Title languages in the cross-cultural educational process”

In 2000, the UN came up with development goal for the millennium. In 2015, it adopted steady development goals for the world and all the states. They are of global significance and universal application. They take into account different ethnic conditions. Target 4, high quality education is among the 17 targets of steady development.

At present, the UNITWIN program/UNESCO Chairs are represented by more than 800 UNESCO chairs and UNITWIN network in 126 countries. Russia accounts for 60 UNESCO Chairs established in universities and scientific organizations. To advance steady progress, they accumulate the foremost achievements and promote their realization in our country. The Coordinating Committee of UNESCO Chairs was established in 2007.

It is to be noted, that only six pedagogical universities carry UNESCO Chairs. Among them are the HERZEN Russian state pedagogical university in Saint Petersburg, Moscow state pedagogical university, Moscow city psychology-pedagogical university, the Akmullah state pedagogical university, North Ossetia pedagogical university (Theory and practice of polylingual education at the Caucasus) and, finally, our UNESCO Chair at Ulyanovsk State University of Education. Our governor stood behind the idea of establishing a UNESCO department in our university. It was he who initiated this project. It took four years for the project to pass through all the stages of harmonization.

In October 2016 the UNESCO Secretary General MS BOKOVA signed an official agreement with our university, which set up the department, Ulyanovsk thus becoming one out of five Volga Region cities featuring a UNESCO Chair.

In 2022 we did final report on the activities of the chair. In 2023 our university decided to apply for the extension of the Chair's activities for the next 4 years. In June 2023, the application was approved by the UNESCO Secretariat, and the Chair's activity and the appointment of a new Chair Head, I.O. Petrishchev, Rector of UlSPU, were also approved.

To preserve language and cultural diversity turns into a big problem for a multiethnic country. Russia is one of them. The Volga area which is populated by more than 100 ethnicities could be considered as a unique model of peaceful and good-neighborly coexistence of many ethnicities which preserve language and cultural diversity. It’s important we understand the processes going on in the area, what helps us preserve and support this unique system, and what processes mean potential threats.

Another problem is that 8 biggest international languages are also affected by globalization. We are well aware of this problem. In secondary schools in the Russian Federation, the number of schoolchildren taking German or French as a foreign language compared to English, keeps falling with every passing year.

That’s why our UNESCO Chair sees its duty in studying issues involving title languages and their interrelation in various aspects. And last but not least, it is essential that we understand how to build an effective system to study foreign languages. Mastering foreign languages is vital for present and future intercultural contacts with countries of Afriсa and the Asian Pacific region. We are to solve these and other problems together with other scholars and research organizations in The Russian federation, the CIS countries, the countries of Europe and Asia, other regions of the world.

We set great store by another direction of our work which we can dub as enlightenment-educational. Here belongs the intensification of language and cultural exchange programs, encouragement of establishing ties between regions and countries in conformity with main principles of UNESCO operation. This direction also envisages the setting up of UNESCO clubs for university, holding international youth meetings “UNESCO model”, organizing Russian and international competitions and olympiads (contests) for schoolchildren and university students. It also includes upgrading skills of educators’ and teachers of Russian and of foreign languages in a variety of refresher courses.

We have established stable ties with universities of Belarus, China, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, India, South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Djibouti and other non-CIS countries. Traditionally, our students, postgraduates and teachers take an active part in joint events: in various academic programmes and scientific conferences. Since 2016, 87 students and 14 professors from our university and universities in other countries have participated in joint academic exchange programs

We hosted several internationals seminars (workshops) and language-oriented conferences.

We were successful in running the final stage of All-Russian Olympiad in French for school students. During such contests, we hold international seminars (workshops) and refresher courses for the teaching community in Russia. In the summer vacation, the department was instrumental in setting up a summer language school for children.

The traditional Language and Culture Festival brings together up to a thousand participants. In October 2024, we are holding yet another such festival.

UNESCO Chair is open to cooperation with all organizations, universities, representatives of different facilities. The chair cooperates with the management of the program "Ulyanovsk as a UNESCO Literary City", with the regional UNESCO committee, with “UNESCO associated schools.”

Finally, we intend to continue co-operation with our foreign partners, with our long-standing partners and with those who have shown interest in our activities.