Lack of funding puts approved MNPS Kurdish language courses on hold

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Posted at 4:13 PM, Aug 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-08 20:33:06-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The goal to begin Kurdish classes at Metro high schools will have to wait even longer.

In January, the Metro Nashville Public School board approved a request to add the Kurdish language as part of its course list. The Tennessee State Board of Education said MNPS may offer Kurdish language classes through the state-approved course of "Other Languages I, II, III, and IV".

Nawzad Hawrami of the Salahadeen Center was behind the effort, and wanted the classes to begin in the 2019-20 school year. However, he said his request was approved without the budget.

"Unfortunately, there is no budget for teachers," Hawrami told NewsChannel 5. "Our request was to approve it with the budget but they approved it without the budget."

Additionally, 75 students must be enrolled at each high school to hold the classes. Hawrami said by enrollment time, there were not enough to garner interest.

"A little difficult for the first time of the teaching to get 75 students," he said.

Hawrami strongly believes in expanding the culture as the community grows. He said the estimated population of Kurds in Nashville is 15,000, with about 3,000 of them being Metro students.

He said the courses would create an opportunity for people to learn the culture, and for Kurdish students to better connect with their heritage.

"I feel like it's something you should really get into because even my little sisters are born here, but even they don't know that much about the Kurdish culture," Bafreen Mehdi Misto of Newroz Market said.

Hawrami and other community members plan to promote the classes by visiting schools, and discussing them at services and on social media.

A meeting with MNPS will be held in September to discuss what to do next. He hopes courses will be available in the next school year.