Zhodzina authorities continue to ignore the desire of Ianka Lapitski, 9, to learn in Belarusian.
The Belarusian language grade where Ianka went was dissolved before the last academic year started. It only had two students. According to the Zhodzina officials, keeping a grade for two students is expensive for the town budget. Ianka's parents refused to have the son transferred to a Russian language school.
Recently Ianka's parents Aliaxei and Sviatlana Lapitskis appealed to the Education Minister Aliaxandr Radzkou for assistance. The letter says that since 2004 due to the decisions of the local authorities they have been deprived of the "basic right" for the son to receive obligatory and free-of-charge education in the mother tongue that is an official language in Belarus. In the year of enforced, in the Lapitskis' opinion, deprivation of Ianka of the possibility to learn in Belarusian the local educational authority has not been able to provide them with a decision. More than that the local officials have exerted psychological pressure and force to accept the much deteriorated conditions for continuing the education. In a letter to the minister the Lapitskis expressed their "strong protest" against the discriminatory, in their opinion, actions of the Zhodzina town educational authority.
Ianka's parents spelled out five demands in the letter to the minister. First, they insist that their issue should be considered as soon as possible and measures to resume a Belarusian language class in Zhodzina. Until the school education issue is resolved Ianka's parents ask for appropriate conditions for the son. Also, the Lapitskis bring to the attention of Mr. Radzkou that they, the parents "of the son who has spoken Belarusian since he was born" do not want to refuse from the constitutional rights to free secondary education in the official Belarusian language.
The situation in Zhodzina was investigated by the Belarusian Language Association. The deputy head of this organization Siarhei Kruchkou believes that the conflict between the Lapitskis and the authorities has political implications: "In my opinion, the Lapitskis are quite active publicly and politically. So the authorities, after the Lapitskis took an active part in the elections, in the election observation, decided to punish them in this way. And, I think, this problem could have been solved long ago but for the desire on the part of the local authorities to punish him in any way. The situation is that they are not even going to make any moves to provide for his constitutional right to provide his child with Belarusian language education".