Language Matters in Ukraine’s Educational Reform | Commentary

john-mark-kuznietsov-134302 (1)Recently, the Washington Post wrote about the law restructuring Ukraine’s education system and establishing Ukrainian as the main language in schools. The new law concerns neighboring countries such as Russia and Hungary about the rights of ethnic minorities.

Why do I consider that important? In addition to creating political tensions in the region, this action may lead the country to a lack of unity and economic inefficiency. By reducing the role of other languages, even though they are clearly present in the country’s cultural mix, the new law segregates between those who speak Ukrainian and those who don’t. It can create an identity problem since language is one of the key-factors that compose one’s sense of belonging.

The new law can have economic consequences as well. It may limit work and educational potential by excluding a part of the population. According to the Post, about 30 percent of Ukrainians called Russian their mother tongue in the 2001 census. There are about 150,000 ethnic Hungarians in the country, accompanied by other minorities such as Romanians and Moldovans. Everyone who does not speak the official language may start facing inequality of payment and lack of work opportunity.

Instead of imposing limitations, it may be worth to embrace the different ethnicities and harness the diverse heritage from its people. Doing so may help inducing an inclusive educational environment and offer steps to guarantee an even more rich economy in the coming years. Just imagine all the business Ukraine can do in Hungary and Russia.

International marketing is a useful answer to a population which benefits from diverse capabilities.

(Click here to read the Washington Post article.)

Global Business: Why Culture Matters

When it comes to business, there is more than one important facet to creating a successful and productive company. Most importantly, is the part culture plays. Think about it. Culture, defined, is an integrated system of learned behavior patterns that are characteristic of the members of any given society, and culture is thus shared through various groups of shared interests. Essentially, it’s the things people share together; language, social cues, behaviors, religions, and even various attitudes and manners that are accepted. In order to produce a successful business globally, you must learn these special aspects of culture, otherwise, you risk not only embarrassing yourself, but loosing an important deal.

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Foreign Schools in the Gulf Need More of a Local Push

In Qatar’s Education City, Audis and Range Rovers fill the student parking lots leaving any reminders of the vast desert far behind. Unlike the schools of India and China, the common areas of Education City look as though they have been plucked from U.S. campuses with a large complex that spans over 5 square miles and houses 8 Western Universities, one of them for Georgetown. Education City was founded in 2001 by the government of Qatar. Some analysts say that the universities which are serving student bodies that are dominated by foreigners, seem like bubbles cut off from Gulf culture and society.” Many professors are worried that such a type of education “will create generations of Emiratis or Qataris who are very well educated but are disconnected from their country’s history, culture and language.”

The high cost of education usually associated with such name brand schools as the ones found in Education City are not an issue for local citizens. The government of Qatar grants the majority of its citizens full scholarships regardless of financial need while foreign students pay costs similar to the corresponding U.S. schools. “We do realize that the whole operation in Education City is funded by Qatar, so we want to maintain our standards without dropping to a low percentage of Qataris or having no link to society,” said Gerd Nonneman, dean of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar. The objective is clear: More Qataris in Qatari Schools ! Hopefully, though, there will also be a continued influx of international students so that any discussion and debate on campus will be global rather than local.

The International Language of … Business

Many companies believe that business is business around the world. But while globalization is a fact of life, cultural convergence is not. Recognizing cultural differences, it helps to tailor  business approaches to individual cultures. One concrete influence on culture is language. There has been an increase in value of individuals who are bilingual or multilingual. However, often overlooked is the language used within a company’s international corporate office. Should the Japanese employees of a U.S. company with an office in Tokyo, speak in  Japanese or English? Increasingly, international companies mandate an English-only policy. According to Tsedal Neeley, a professor at Harvard Business School, companies that don’t adopt English as a standard for their entire organization will, at some point, “experience some form of bottleneck…It depends on what the company does, but if you’ll have members in different countries needing to collaborate — whether it’s to integrate technology platforms or cater to customers worldwide — it will become more important that even middle managers and employees with international assignments use a common language in order to interface with others.