RIGA - The adoption of bills providing for a gradual transition to education in the state language in Latvia’s ethnic minority schools will worsen relations between Latvia and Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, adding that Latvia will bear full responsibility for this deterioration.
“Official Riga must realize that with its unfriendly steps it continues to complicate the bilateral relations, and Latvia bears full responsibility for this,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a comment on the ministry’s website.
Mass protests, Russian-speaking public’s appeals to the president and leading global human rights bodies, the legislative proposals of the Association for Support of Schools with Russian Language of Instruction in Latvia do not gain support from the authorities and are simply being ignored, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The odious measures that are being taken under hypocritical slogans and seemingly for the benefit of “children and their parents”, or even at their “request”, have nothing to do with respecting the rights of Latvia’s ethnic minorities. On the contrary – they are a continuation of the discriminatory policy Latvia been following for 25 years with the aim to forcibly assimilate the Russian-speaking population, the Russian Foreign Ministry claims in the statement.
Yet again, using “integration” and “strengthening the position of the state language” as a pretext, Latvia tramples on the legitimate interests and internationally recognized rights of more than a third of the Baltic republic’s population, the Russian Foreign Ministry says, expressing hope that this move will receive an impartial assessment of international organizations.
As reported, the Latvian parliament on March 22 passed in the final reading amendments to the Education Law and the Law on General Education under which schools of ethnic minorities will have to start gradual transition to Latvian-only secondary education in the 2019/2020 academic year.
The legislative amendments providing for a gradual transition to education in Latvian in all public schools will be implemented gradually from September 1, 2019, to September 1, 2021.
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.