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Mamikins: there is no discussion regarding «forceful Latvianization of national minority schools»

Andrejs Mamikins/facebook.com.
Andrejs Mamikins, member of the European Parliament, has turned to Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis with an invitation to start «a real discussion» about the government’s plans to start teaching important subjects in schools only in Latvian language.

The MEP explains this decision by saying that there are currently no active discussions about this topic and that the Education and Science Ministry has not even tried imitating any.

Mamikins criticizes the ministry’s Advisory Council, which, according to him, has become a place where «instead of an actual discussion and exchange of opinions, the minister informs his underlings about plans without bothering to learn opinions of other sides and if people even agree with those plans or not.»

«The Advisory Council mostly consists of directors of Russian schools. They cannot freely express their opinions, because they might lose their posts for criticizing the minister’s idea. This is why the country has to organize a full discussion with involvement of all interested sides. These include recipients of education – parents and children – and professional teachers, who would openly tell the minister what they think of his idea: be it praise or criticism,» Mamikins continues.

He thinks the ministry has not performed any serious sociological surveys to study if children and their parents would agree to have all school subjects taught in Latvian language. The last time such a survey was performed in Latvia was, according to Mamikins, 2010, when 2% of national minority pupils and parents said they would welcome education only in Latvian language.

On 10 November, the National Minority Advisory Council conceptually supported the idea of transitioning towards education only in Latvian language for 10-12 grades, as Education and Science Minister Kārlis Šadurskis told journalists after the meeting.

The politician explained that the ministry’s offer was discussed with partners. The council also addressed several matters the ministry should take into account to realize changes as successfully as possible. «The council conceptually supported the ministry’s vision. It has also been concluded that a lot of work will have to be put in details to make sure society understands and accepts this new model,» said Šadurskis.

Education and Science Ministry has initiated massive changes for the education approach in Latvia to introduce a unified system and review education content and teaching method. The planned transition to education in state language only will help improve new general education content and strengthen the role of state language, as well as help preserve language and culture of national minorities, believes the ministry.

Romans Alijevs, chairman of the council, said that the council’s proposals are rational, productive and associated with education quality. «Education quality is a problem resolved by proper teacher training. It no less important to work with parents. It also means reforming content and ensuring changes – both for content and teachers’ thinking process,» said Alijevs.

Šadurskis explains that a great deal of focus will be put on preparing teachers. He adds that appropriate funding will also be provided.

To ensure successful realization of changes in the country’s education sector, the ministry intends to realize specific support measures to further improve teachers’ professional competence and state language skills. The planned funding for support measures in 2018 to 2020 is EUR 1.2 million.

It is also planned to divert EUR 3.299 million in EU funding for state language skills courses and educational materials and handbooks in the next four years.

On 6 October, Kārlis Šadurskis announced that all secondary education subjects in Latvia would be taught only in Latvian language starting from 2020/2021 school year. Representatives of national minorities will, however, still be able to learn their native language, literature, culture and history in their native language.


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