VILNIUS - People in the district of Vilnius, which has a large population of ethnic Poles, feel discriminated against in terms of Lithuanian-language education, saying they are forced to drive their children to other settlements even if there is an educational establishment nearby.
"The Vilnius district municipal administration does not favor Lithuanian education in the district of Vilnius," Gediminas Kazenas, leader of the opposition in the district's municipal council, said at a news conference on Monday.
"Members of the opposition have repeatedly appealed to the local government and have submitted projects for opening Lithuanian-language education groups in the district, but all of their requests have been rejected by citing formal and made-up reasons," he said.
Vilnius District Mayor Marija Rekst of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania–Christian Families Alliance (EAPL-CFA) could not be reached by BNS for comment on Monday.
Rugile Juskevic of Rastinenai, a settlement in the district, says local people have repeatedly asked the local government to open a Lithuanian-language group, but all their attempts were unsuccessful.
"The Rastinenai school is a two-story building that has two libraries, but all parents received the answer that 'there is no space for you' there," Juskevic said at the news conference.
"It's inconceivable that there should be no space for one's education in the Lithuanian language," she added.
Linas Rutkauskas, another resident of Rastinenai, said he would have to drive three children to different educational establishments, even though there is a kindergarten nearby but Lithuanians are not welcome there.
MP Audronius Azubalis of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats (HU-LCD) said at the news conference that "the (ruling) majority, which has stayed in power for years, deliberately and systematically discriminates against Lithuanian children in the district of Vilnius."
The lawmaker said he saw the central government's direct interference in setting up educational establishments in the district as the only way to solve the problem.
Daiva Legan, a representative of parents' community in the district, said parents we forced to send their children to private educational establishments amid a shortage of Lithuanian-language slots in public schools.