Walking the Line

Debates over language policy in Macedonia exemplify the need, in deeply divided societies, to walk the ‘very thin line between enjoying language rights and complete separation’.173 The language of instruction in Macedonia’s state schools remains a bone of contention in highly symbolic debates over ownership of the state and its institutions, and the relationships between different communities, as demonstrated by the Strategy for Integrated Education.

Debates over languages in Macedonia’s schools reflect the evolving status and hierarchy of different ethnolinguistic communities in the state, to an even greater extent than language debates in Lebanon and Northern Ireland. Thus, post-Ohrid language policies have hampered the learning of the Macedonian language among children of Albanian background and fostered the separation of Albanian and Macedonian children into different schools or shifts. These are the unintended con?sequences of the newly established parity of esteem between the ethnic Albanian and ethnic Macedonian communities. Yet debates over the language of instruction in schools also highlight the marginalisation of the Turkish, Serbian, Roma, Bosniak and Vlach communities in conso- ciational Macedonia.

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