Baltic States – CIS, Education and Science, Latvia, Legislation

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Wednesday, 16.01.2019, 12:43

President: transition to education in Latvia must be gradual

BC, Riga, 12.10.2017.Print version
The planned transition to Latvian as the sole language of instruction in Latvia’s high schools has to take place gradually, President Raimonds Vejonis said after his weekly meeting with Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis (Greens/Farmers) yesterday, reports LETA.

Commenting on Education and Science Minister Karlis Sadurskis’ (Unity) idea to ensure that by the school year 2020/2021 all general education subjects in high schools in Latvia are taught only in the Latvian language, the president said that first it is necessary to ensure all preconditions for the switch, which includes teachers ready to teach in Latvian and kids who would have mastered the state language already in nursery schools. At that age, children probably learn languages easier than when they reach the school-age, the president believes.

“There is only one state language in Latvia – the Latvian language, and if the ministry proposes a gradual transition to the Latvian language, this is a way to ensure that Latvian is the only language used by Latvia’s residents in their day-to-day communication,” said Vejonis.

The president said that the best solutions have to be worked out for the transition and that the Education and Science Ministry has been tasked with drawing up a report that would include detailed solutions.

When the report is ready, it will be possible to provide an assessment, but at this stage, it is only an idea which is being discussed, Vejonis said.

As reported, Saudurskis announced at a news conference last Friday that all general education subjects in high schools in Latvia will be taught only in the Latvian language in the 2020/2021 school year while children of ethnic minorities will continue learning their native language, literature and subjects related to culture and history in the respective minority language.

Sadurskis stressed that the principle of bilingual education was introduced in Latvia in 2004. Despite quite notable success, 22 percent of youngsters from ethnic minorities still have only basic or weak Latvian language skills and sometimes none at all.

He said a public discussion had been launched of the proposal for a new school curriculum with the focus on learning the state language. Work must continue towards achieving the same perception of history and one information environment but this is the realm of the Culture Ministry therefore joint efforts by the government are needed to fulfill the ultimate goal, the education minister said.

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