Latvia once again talking about the closure of Russian schools. In January, the Parliament approved amendments to the law on education, aimed to translate all Russian schools in the country in the Latvian language. Teachers insist that the quality of education of national minorities will fall significantly, the activists of the Russian community, the government prepared a new rally, and the inhabitants of the country admit that they are nostalgic for the Soviet Union. “MK” understood how is it that Latvia is positioning itself as a full part of the Western system, was a reserve of intolerance and national narrow-mindedness and what it will bring.
According to the census in 2016, in Latvia live about 2 million people, among them nearly 26% of the population was Russian, the biggest minority of the country. In some large Latvian cities, including Riga and Daugavpils, Latvian live less than other nationalities together Russian, Ukrainians, Belarusians, poles etc. it Should be noted that most of the population speaks in Russian, owns 69% of the citizens.
For the first time about the refusal of Russian authorities of Latvia have started talking in 2004. The so-called “school reform” has proposed a increase in the number of subjects that are studied in the Latvian language in high school, to 100%. Then the rationale of the reform was the need to ensure equal opportunities for the graduates of Latvian schools and minority schools. Against the initiative expressed the country’s constitutional court, it was later criticized in the UN. In Latvia relented and agreed to only 60 percent of education conducted in Latvian. However, after 14 years Riga has decided to re-implement the idea.
In early October of last year the Latvian government endorsed the report of the Ministry of education about the transfer of Russian schools into the Latvian language. Now, teaching in a Russian school – a voluntary choice of children and their parents. However, from 2020, all General subjects in secondary schools of Latvia is planned to teach only in the Latvian language in schools of national minorities will be saved with the opportunity to study in their native language, the language itself, literature and history, but then these items will translate into the state language.
The authorities explain educational reform concern about the students themselves, to better Latvian owned, and the nation was more cohesive. “Language is the element that unites the nation, and only a United nation can develop successfully,” — said the Minister of education and science of Latvia Karlis Sadurskis. He also expressed hope that deputies will take the law during the spring session. “Here in Latvia and the Latvian language was, is and will be the only state,” more than transparent on this matter put Deputy Hosam Abu Meri.
According to the expert of the Russian Institute for strategic studies (RISS), Denis Maltsev, the purpose of de-Russification of education in Latvia is the infringement of ethnic minorities. In his opinion, students not in their native language, children will be more difficult to enter universities and get a job because they were not given an opportunity to grasp the curriculum, and that more than a third of the population of the country. Maltsev considers that the Latvian authorities will continue the process of de-Russification of education “in the ongoing conflict of the Western countries with Russia and the injection of anti-Russian hysteria, which we often observe in many different manifestations.”
This opinion is shared by the Deputy Director of the Institute of CIS countries Vladimir Zharikhin. In an interview with “MK” he recalled about the category of “non-citizens”, which exists in Latvia. Persons who are not and were not citizens of any state, except the Soviet Union. “The Russian population holds rallies and outraged, but as the EU looks the other way, the authorities of Latvia do not pay attention to it,” – said Zharihin. He suggested that now Russian kids will go to study in private schools.
However, in Latvia there were also those who look at the innovation optimistic. “Passing by a majority of votes to the Commission a bill for the gradual transfer of secondary schools in teaching only in Latvian starting on 1 September 2019, the Seimas signed the verdict of the authorities of Latvians in Latvia. Karlis Ulmanis can already begin to roll over in his grave,” writes the journalist of the edition “the Satellite. Latvia” Denis Ermolaev. In his view, the translation bilingual schools on state language of instruction will simply end with the Russification of the Latvian schools in the cities. “It has been noticed that if a child in Latvian kindergarten receive at least one Russian child, all children begin to speak in Russian. It’s the peculiarities of the national mentality, which has not been canceled”, – said Ermolaev.
What it really needs is the initiative of the Latvian government and what it may lead, “MK” told the experts.
Miroslav Mitrofanov, co-Chairman of the Board of the party “Russian Union of Latvia»
– The relation to Russian in Latvia has always been suspicious, contemptuous and discriminatory, but even in these special manifestations are occasional crises. Now one of them. First, it is connected with the centenary of the independence of Latvia. Secondly, with the upcoming elections and the extremely low support of the ruling party. Apparently, the authorities decided that the traditional holiday events is not enough and came up with this step. This has to bribe national anxious voter, and show that they are the masters and should continue to vote for right-wing nationalist party. Naturally, many Russians living in the country, is not satisfied, and they organize protests. The next big rally is scheduled for February 24. According to the survey, the initiative of the authorities to support 52% of the population is about half ethnic Latvians and a small part Russian. The main problem is that the government is not going to go on dialogue and to consider the interests of the second half.
Jacob Pliner, the founder of Riga secondary school “Evrika»
– I like the doctor of education believe that it is best children learn and develop in their native language, the language of the family. No scientific basis in the previously approved bilingual system there, and 60 to 40 % – is the percentage of alcohol in vodka. And in training, as you know, nothing good can not give. Often it turns out that not proficient, unfortunately, Latvian language teacher of physics to explain the physics, and the lack of understanding children perceive this subject. And it turns out that there is no great knowledge of physics, nor in the Latvian language. In children worse by the knowledge and health, and parents spend money on tutoring in Latvian. Russian children now are less likely to enter the budget places in universities and get a job, and our grandchildren and great grandchildren a chance to get decent education will be even less. The country has a huge unemployment rate, low pensions, lagging behind industry and agriculture. And when there is nothing to boast of, the authorities earn points of the voters on such nationalist bills.
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