Lithuanian schools should give priority to EU languages over Russian, president says

  • 2022-11-30
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Teaching Russian in Lithuanian schools is not a priority today, President Gitanas Nauseda said on Wednesday, adding that more attention should be paid to the official languages of EU member states instead.  

"Do we have strong economic, cultural and social relations with Russia? Probably not. That is why I think this is not a priority," Nauseda told reporters. 

"We have more than enough Russian language teachers. Then, in a way, supply starts to dictate demand. In my opinion, this is not right. Is the fostering of the Russian language in our schools a priority today? I don't think so," the president said. 

"We are dependent on the fact that we do have a lot of Russian teachers," he added.

Given Lithuania's intensive ties with other EU member states, priority should be given to Spanish, French and German, which "are very useful for our people when communicating with their colleagues in the West", according to Nauseda. 

He noted, however, that there is a shortage of teachers of these languages in Lithuania.  

Jolanta Urbanovic, the president's adviser on education issues, said on Tuesday that Lithuania should gradually phase out the teaching of Russian as a second foreign language.

Latvia's Ministry of Education and Science earlier announced plans to limit the choice of a second foreign language in schools from the 2026-2027 academic year only to those of EU nations or countries that Latvia has signed intergovernmental agreements in the field of education with. Russian would not be on the list.

Lithuania's education authorities have said that they recommend schools to drop Russian as a second foreign language.

Based on the Lithuanian Education Ministry's data, Russian as a second foreign language was the most popular language in schools this academic year as almost 15,000 sixth-graders chose to learn it.