Erzya launched a public campaign to achieve the opening of a modern gymnasium in Saransk with the Erzya language of the educational process.
Erzya people already by the whole families ask the head of Republic of Mordovia Vladimir Volkov to create the Saransk school, where “Erzya language is not only taught as a subject, but also where a number of compulsory subjects would be taught in their native Erzya language”.
Poet and writer Eryush Vezhaj says about the initiative: “Among the Erzya people there is a long discussion about the creation of Erzya grammar school. Modern national culture cannot be developed in the kitchen. It needs talented writers, journalists, screenwriters, and translators. Where could they come from? From schools where the Erzya language is taught an optional hour a week? For such talents to appear, you need an environment. The Erzya gymnasium should become such an environment for teachers and students.”
Activists note that the question of “language competition” in the multinational Russian Federation is unacceptable, and the Erzya language itself is in the position of a “poor relative”, when instead of it is “learning of any language, developing any culture, and the Erzya people themselves are offered to “compete” with English and Russian languages in the kitchen and in the rural environment. What competition can we talk about if the Russian language is studied 8-9 hours a week, and the Erzya language is studied just one! Erzya people sadly joke that since the signing of the Federal Treaty, only one letter has changed in the curriculum. “Russian with Erzya TOGETHER” turned “Russian Erzya INSTEAD” (Com. – in Russian language the word “together” is “vmestE”, and the word “instead” is “vmestO”, that’s why it turns out to be a play on words) – Eryush Vezhaj explains.
In October 2019, the Chief Elder (“Inyazor”) of the Erzya people, Syres Bolyaen, appealed to the Government of the Republic of Mordovia to open an Erzya gymnasium in Saransk. In the same month, the head of Saransk, Pyotr Tultaev, rejected this idea, he noted that “in Saransk schools, especially in areas with a compact population of Mordovians, national languages are studied. In kindergartens, they study the culture of the peoples of Mordovia and languages.”