LAShOR - Latvian Association for Support of Schools with Russian Language of Instruction










According to the Latvian Law on Education all secondary schools must start transition to teaching in Latvian only from 01.09.2004. The question is, how is this going to happen in practice? The Ministry Of Education and Science clarifies the details in its recent draft of Secondary School Programme Standards.

The Ministry claims that Russian as the language of teaching will be used also after 01.09.2004, and 40 % of the total lessons will be taught in Russian. And yet the question is if 40 % is enough to preserve ones national and cultural identity and to obtain a full command of the native language and subjects of general education. Could this 60/40 % standard be implemented in real life? LAShOR as well as Russian Language and Literature Teachers Association and The Union of Citizens and Non-Citizens call upon public discussion of the Ministerial Draft.

We wouldnt like The Ministry of Education and Science to approve the Standards for secondary education without having discussed them with the customers of education. Public discussion of the Standards was arrnaged with financial support from The Programme of Baltic-American Partnership ( admistered by Soros Foundation in Latvia).

The goals of the discussion were:

  1. To properly inform the parents on the Ministry plans and give the details of the changes in the educational system in minorities schools from 01.09.2004;
  2. To ascertain the language the parents would like their children to be taught in; to see if the parents agree to a 40 % mark; to find out which educational policy of the government could get maximum supports of the parents;
  3. To sum up discussions results and to present the summary to the Ministry as well as to Saeima commission on education, science and culture and to mass media.

The discussion had two stages. The first was carried out as parents, students , teachers and school administrations survey On the Latvian minorities schools prospects. We worked out questionnaies and distributed them to all Russian and mixed (Russian/Latvian) schools. The second stage tokk a form of regional discussions in rezekne and Ventspils. the concluding discussion was held in Riga on May 17, 2003.

The conception of the Ministry rests upon three main principles:

  1. Any five subjects ( apart from Latvian language and Latvian literature) must be taught in the Latvian language in minorities schools;
  2. 2/5 of the total lessons could be taught in the native language;
  3. the exams and State tests must be carried out in the Latvian language.

On May 8, 2003 the Ministry consultative board ( dealing with minorities educational matters) discussed and voted for The Standards of Educational Programmes for Secondary Schools, proposed by the Ministry. Later, on may 13 this document was approved by the Government as the educational Standards for minorities schools in Latvia.

The experts of LAShOR however, consider the document to be:

invalid conceptualy: the strengthening of the Latvian language in Latvia should not be done by means of excluding minorities native language out of their educational system;

invalid legally: the decision of the Ministry contradicts the Law on Education. The Law states that from 01.09.2004 the secondary schools should teach Only in the Latvian language. While this wording of the Law is in force, nobody can convince the parents that even 40% of the subjects taught in the native language, will last long. Education in the native language must be guaranteed by the Law.

invalid methodically: A school, in order to implement the demands of the Ministry, will have to teach the main subjects in the Latvian language. These subjects are most difficult ( and most important) for comprehension by the students. The remaining 2/3 of the subjects that could be taught in the native language, will of course not ensure the quality of education and preservation of students national and cultural identity.

Thus the schools and the parents, and not the Ministry, should determine the number of subjects and the language of teaching them. The exams must be carried out only on the language of teaching. it is necessary to improve the quality of teaching the Latvian language to the students.

The public discussion of the Standards clearly showed that the majority of the parents would like their children to be taught in their native language. They are also against the exams carried out in the Latvian language only. The above can be guaranteed by amendments to the Law on Education. Without the altering the Law the schools will still be left under suspense that in the long run the whole educational process will be transferred to the Latvian language as the only language of teaching.

Saita administrtors