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Council of Non-Governmental Organisations in Latvia makes a Statement
On October 9, 2017, the ruling coalition of Latvia has supported the proposal by the Ministry of Education and Science (MES) to shift, starting from academic year 2020/2021, all general curriculum of high schools of national minorities to Latvian language of instruction only.
In a democracy, school education should not only prepare youth for adulthood and teach it love to own country, but also, which is highly important, ensure the preservation of its ethnic identity, including, first of all, preservation of its language and culture.
After the restoration of independence of Latvia in 1991, non-democratic ideological concept of building a so-called “Latvian Latvia” has been adopted. Since the time, Latvian authorities have conducted a policy directed to closure of national minority schools and forceful assimilation of national minorities.
The extreme politicisation of education has resulted in that national minority schools have been existing under permanent language inspections, ideological and psychological pressure from authorities for more than 25 years. This pressure is growing stronger year after year.
The decision by the ruling coalition to support the proposal by MES to switch national minority schools to Latvian language of instruction only, starting from academic year 2020/2021, being adopted without any discussion with those affected, i.e., with national minorities, is a blatant violation of a Council of Europe treaty, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The convention was ratified by Latvia in May, 2005. This decision can also, in case of being implemented, lead to a violent destruction of the schools with education in Russian, which have existed in Latvia since 1789.
We understand that after the dismantling of school education in Russian, step by step, the Russian-speaking community of Latvia will disappear, too. The Russian-language media and the Russian culture in Latvia will vanish.
We understand that the main aim of the so-called “reform” of Mr Sadurskis is a forceful assimilation of children from Russian-speaking families and consequent disappearance of the Russian-speaking community of Latvia. His aim is not the alleged care about Russian-speaking children being equally competitive among graduates of Latvian-language schools on labour market.
We consider that the “reform” of Mr Sadurskis has all the features of forceful assimilation of national minorities and ethnocide.
The Council of Non-Governmental Organisations of Latvia expresses an UNEQUIVOCAL PROTEST against the MES program of abolition of national minority schools.
Our demands for the state of Latvia stay the same:
1. To fire the Minister of Education and Science of Latvia, Karlis Sadurskis.
2. To withdraw the preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia, after adoption of which Latvia has became ethnocratic State de jure , and statutory grounds have been formed for final suppression of national minority rights.
3. To launch elaboration of a new Constitution of the Republic of Latvia, granting to the Russian language an official status – that of a language of one of national minorities traditionally living in Latvia.
4. To adopt a law on national-cultural autonomy of national minorities, which would ensure preservation and development of languages and cultures of Latvia’s national minorities. This must include preservation and further development of schools with Russian language of instruction and schools of other national minorities. To create a Department of National Minority Schools under MES, with wide competence on preservation and development of national minority schools, following the example of the First Republic of Latvia.
Adopted on the session of the Council of Non-Governmental Organisations of Latvia
November 21, 2017