At the beginning of April, Russian media spread information concerning statements by certain officials of the Russian Federation that interpreted inaccurately and tendentiously the amendments to the Education Law and the Law on General Education adopted by the Latvian Parliament and proclaimed by the President of Latvia on 2 April. Once again, we are facing attempts to defame and slander Latvia. The Russian officials who express their views on amendments to Latvian laws seem not to be familiar with the substance of the reform at all.
We would like to emphasise that the reform is planned throughout the entire national education system, not only in schools with the minority education programs. A new teaching content, structure and methodology is being prepared. The aim of the reform is to ensure equal opportunities for all school leavers in the labour market and in further education, including in vocational and higher education institutions, where education is implemented in the official language.
The planned reforms for transition to studies in the official language are in line with Latvia’s international commitments, which stipulate the obligation to ensure equal opportunities for every child to receive education and to provide the minorities with the opportunity to learn their mother tongue, literature and subjects related to their culture and history. Therefore, Latvia will continue guaranteeing support for the preservation of the culture and identity of minorities as defined in the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
Amendments to the Education Law and the Law on General Education do not discriminate against minorities; on the contrary, they promote the mastering of the Latvian language by all. The government will continue to support state-funded programmes of basic and secondary education for minorities in seven languages: Russian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Estonian, Lithuanian, and Hebrew. Such support to minorities is significantly higher than in other European countries, including Russia.
In the course of the educational reform, significant support will be provided for improving the professional competence of teachers and proficiency in the official language through providing teaching aids and methodological materials.
It is regrettable that in the last 27 years Russia has constantly waged campaigns of lies and disinformation on various developments in Latvia. Recently, particular attention has been focused on the issue of the proposed educational reform. Latvia cooperates with the UN, the OSCE and other international organisations on a regular basis. Latvia will also continue maintaining regular contacts and cooperate with officials of international organizations whose primary competence includes the issues of the protection of minority rights. Latvia is open to dialogue with representatives of international organizations on any other issues.