Ukrainian language for Canadian students. Tribune - April 27, 1967.

The Ukrainian community — so obviously proud of its heritage — is baffling the city’s school administration. In Winnipeg schools there are about 6,000 children of Ukrainian descent. The
Ukrainian language has been on the curriculum for four years. But, at the moment, only 73 students are taking Ukrainian classes in the whole school system.

And there are indications the figure will rise only slightly in the coming year, although Ukrainian has been elevated to the status of French and German as a “second” language for entrance to the University of Manitoba. A poll carried out recently by the school administration showed only about 100 more students will enroll in Ukrainian classes when the new school year starts in September. Results of the poll were especially puzzling because 2000 Winnipeg children are already studying Ukrainian in Saturday and evening classes sponsored by churches and cultural organizations.

Why many of these children don’t take Ukrainian courses offered from grades 9 to 12 in high schools is a question the school administration is trying to answer. Ron Thompson, administrative assistant for secondary schools, feels the poll indicated that many parents don’t realize that Ukrainian is now on par with French and German as far as university entrance requirements are concerned.

“We told students to tell their parents, but I feel that in many instances the message never got home,” says Mr. Thompson. Admitting that the previous ban on Ukrainian as a university entrance course had seriously limited its appeal in schools, mr. Thompson says the language should now be looked upon more favorably as a school subject by parents.

“It’s the nucleus for the study of all Slavic languages and a valuable tool for anyone planning to go to university.”

Because demand is so low at present the classes in Ukrainian are given at only a small number of schools in North Winnipeg. A Grade 9 group of 44 students takes classes in Isaac Newton School, 730 Aberdeen Ave. This group is made up of 15 children from Isaac Newton itself, 19 from St. John’s
High School, six from Aberdeen School, three from Sisler High School and one from Andrew Mynarski.

This group constitutes the only Grade 9 students in the school system who are taking Ukrainian.
Higher up the ladder the numbers become even smaller. In Grade 10, St. John’s eight and Sisler has 12 students. In Grades 11 and 12, Sisler has a total of nine students who are taught at noon hour by Slavic language specialist Dr. B. N. Bilash.

Because the numbers of students are so small, school authorities have had trouble in scheduling the classes. For example, the Grade 9 class hits been meeting for one full afternoon in each six-day
school cycle. This timetabling has barred students from “shops” and home economics — deprivations that have helped to limit the appeal of Ukrainian in the eyes of students.

Disadvantages of this sort would disappear if only enough students would enroll this year for the classes.
“I could schedule Ukrainian just as I do other courses if I had the students,” says J. E. Dack, Isaac Newton School principal. Mr. Dack points out that in the Winnipeg school system, there are more than enough teachers but not enough students to fill Ukrainian classes. The curriculum for Ukrainian is set out by the provincial department of education, but it is taught flexibly in order to accommodate students with varying levels of knowledge of the language.

At Isaac Newton, the Grade 9 group is divided into three distinct classes — elementary, intermediate and advanced. The elementary students have little or no knowledge of Ukrainian but, prompted by
their parents or themselves, they start at school by learning the alphabet and reading simple books.
At the intermediate level emphasis is placed on grammar, with some attention to Ukrainian literature, history and geography.


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