RIGA - In the second reading, Saeima on Friday endorsed amendments providing for a transition to Latvian as the only instruction language in preschools and elementary schools within three years.
A final reading will still have to take place before the amendments come into force.
The amendments have been drafted to the Education Law and the General Education Law "in order to foster successful implementation of the upgraded curriculum in all Latvian educational institutions".
The Education and Science Ministry explains that the current approach in minority education programs has not ensured quality acquisition of the state language at all stages of education. Therefore, in order to ensure students' opportunities to participate in public life as effectively as possible and to promote further education, it is equally important for minority students to learn the state language.
The bill states that, effective September 1, 2023 state language will be the only instruction language at all preschools established by local governments and private individuals.
The Education and Science Ministry explains that general preschool education programs will be aimed at comprehensive development of children, preparing them for elementary school. Minority children will have the opportunity to learn their native language, culture and history as part of extracurricular activities funded by state or municipalities.
The bill provides that, effective September 1, 2023, Latvian will be the sole instruction language for grades 1, 4 and 7, from September 1, 2024 - for grades 2, 5 and 8, and from 2025 - for grades 3, 6 and 9.
Minority students will have the opportunity to learn their native language, culture and history as part of extracurricular activities funded by state or municipalities.
In turn, the range of instruction languages at vocational education institutions will be limited to official languages of the European Union.
Furthermore, the bill stipulates that the Education Law will have to be amended to provide that persons with insufficient knowledge of the state language may not work as school principals and teachers. This provision will be enforced by the State Language Center officials.