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Monday 16.07.2018 | Name days: Hermīne, Estere
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Harmony believes education only in Latvian language is discrimination

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUMembers of Harmony’s Saeima faction have turned to President of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis with a request to halt the parliament’s newly approved amendments to the General Education Law and Education Law regarding education only in Latvian language.

Members of Harmony believe the amendments in question do will not help accomplish the goal that was declared at the very beginning. On top of that, deputies say that the new redaction of the law goes against the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia and the international agreements signed by the country, such as the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

This convention, among other things, provides that people part of national minorities have the right to form and manage private education institutions. Also, according to the Convention, any person part of a national minority has the right to learn their native language. The state, if there is sufficient demand, should provide national minorities, where possible, with ample opportunities to learn native language and acquire education in their native language in a territory where there is a large number of the same national minority.

Harmony believes this convention applies fully to Latvia. Because of that, the approved amendments go against it, because Russian-speaking people have lived in Latvia in large numbers for many years. On top of that, those amendments represent discrimination against one’s nationality.

Finally, Hague recommendations from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe mention that national minorities have the right to education. In addition, the document clearly states that education is an important element for development and preservation of an individual’s national identity.

The faction believes «the approved amendments have nothing in common with the education reform, because even Education Minister Kārlis Šadurskis has publicly admitted having nothing against other national minorities, because they represent European nations and those with which Latvia has special agreements signed.»

«Šadurskis openly said that there is no agreement with Russia, and there never will be until the country returns the Crimean Peninsula to Ukraine. With that, it is clear that amendments to the law have nothing to do with education reform’s goal to improve education in the country. It is a simple political decision,» Harmony representatives say.

Because of the aforementioned reasons, the faction has asked the president to return controversial amendments to the Saeima for a repeated review.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Kārlis Šadurskis says: «A society that consists of two communities is an obstacle, not stimulus for democracy, welfare and strong state development. This is why it is our duty to take care and create conditions for national minorities in Latvia to integrate in Latvian environment as soon as possible».

«The bilingual education model we had introduced in 2004 was a transition period to continue introducing Latvian language in the entire education system, reducing the fragmentation of our society and giving an opportunity to our children to grow and learn together, have a sense of belonging to their country, respect and be proud of Latvia’s history and celebrate holidays together,» adds the minister.

Amendments to the Education Law provide that education of school subjects from 1st to 6th grade is to be performed at least 50% in Latvian. School subjects from 7th to 9th grade are to be taught in Latvian language in no less than 80% (this includes foreign languages). Youngsters in 10th, 11th and 12th grade are to be taught all subjects excluding foreign language in Latvian starting from 2021/2022. Children undergoing education in national minority schools will still have the right to learn their respective language, literature, culture and history in their native language.

1st-6th graders will be able to pick one of three national minority education programme examples starting from 2019/2020 school year.

By ensuring a gradual transition to education only in state language, the Education and Science Ministry will perform its international commitment to sustain and develop national minority schools. This includes provision of funding for institutions that perform national minority education programmes in accordance with international agreements. Representatives of national minorities will still have the option to receive quality education, ensuring their involvement in the labour market and preserving their native language and culture.


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