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RIGA – The Latvian parliament today sent the legislative amendments providing to start gradual transition to Latvian as the sole language of instruction in schools on September 1, 2019, to committees for revision.
The amendments to the General Education Law were supported with 66 votes to 21, while MP Juris Vilums (Latvian Association of Regions) did not participate in the vote, while amendments to the Education Law were supported with 67 votes to 21, and Vilums again did not participate in the vote.
The amendments will be implemented gradually from September 1, 2019 to September 1, 2021.
A decision was made already last year that the centralized high school exams for 12th grade pupils will be held only in the Latvian language already this school year.
Already in preschools, starting from the age of five, new education guidelines will be introduced in 2019/2020 school year, providing for a bigger role of the Latvian language in the study process.
A new bilingual education model will be introduced in grades 1-6, ensuring that at least 50 percent of the subjects are taught in Latvian, and in grades 7-9, ensuring that at least 80 percent of the study contents is in Latvian in 2019/2020. The final exams for the 9th grade pupils will be held entirely in Latvia.
Starting from 2020/2021 school year all general education subjects in grades 10 and 11 will be taught only in the Latvian language, while children of ethnic minorities will continue learning their native language, literature and subjects related to culture and history in the respective minority language.
Starting from 2021/2022 school year all general education subjects in high school (grades 10-12) will be taught only in the Latvian language, while children of ethnic minorities will continue learning their native language, literature and subjects related to culture and history in the respective minority language.
Education and Science Minister Karlis Sadurskis (Unity) underscored earlier that the Latvian language and culture is the foundation of the Latvian community, therefore the society should take care of the language, the national identity, civic society and society integration. By implementing the transition to Latvian as the sole language of instruction, the role of the Latvian language will be strengthened, but, at the same time, the peculiarities and development of different ethnic cultures will be also ensured.
According to the Education and Science Ministry, the transition to Latvian as the instruction language in all schools will improve education quality and ensure preservation of minorities' languages and culture according to Latvia's international obligations.