Statements of Conference on Russian-language schools in Latvia


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Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 10:49:56 +0200 (EET)
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Subject: Statements of Conference on Russian-language schools in Latvia

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Original sender: Igor Pimenov 

Statements of Conference on Russian-language schools in
Latvia


The Non-government organization LASHOR (Association for Support of
Russian Language Schools in Latvia) has organized the Conference of
Parents of Latvia "To Study in Mother Tongue". It was held in Riga on
25th November 2000.

About 500 people from the whole of the Republic of Latvia participated
in the Conference. 390 of them came as parents - from major cities
Riga, Liepaja, Daugavpils, Ventspils, Jelgava, Rezekne, Valmiera,
Tukums and the districts of Riga, Jelgava, Rezekne, Ludza, Ogre,
Preili.

The children of the participants study in 88 schools with the Russian
language of tuition - a good part of the state-financed school network
in Latvia. While LASHOR had limited opportunities to address the
public, still more than 7500 people supported its goals and proposals
during the preparation of the Conference.

The Conference has adopted four documents, as follows
- Address to the Saeima (Parliament) and the Cabinet of Ministers of
the Republic of Latvia "On Education Policy of the State in Latvia
Concerning National Minorities of Latvia"
- Address to the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia "On Guarantees for
Education in Mother Tongue"
- Address to Latvia - Russia Intergovernmental Committee
- On LASHOR Authorisations 

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LASHOR - Association for Support of Russian Language Schools in Latvia

Conference of Parents of Latvia "To Study in Mother Tongue"
Riga, November 25, 2000

Address to the Saeima and the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of
Latvia

On education policy of the State in Latvia
concerning national minorities of Latvia

Since 1995 a reform of education system in the Russian language takes
place in Latvia. The goals and the program concerning school education
were developed at the Ministry of Education and Science and formulated
in the Program of Transition to education in the state language (Full
title of the document "Program of gradual transition to receive
secondary education in the state language and by 2005 increasing the
relative amount of subjects taught in the state language in the
general education programs"). 

On May 12, 1998, even before the Law on education was adopted, the
Cabinet of Ministers decided to take into consideration and include it
into the draft national program of the integration of society in
Latvia. Hallowing the reform of education, the public integration
program equated itself with it and thus took upon itself the
responsibility for its results. 

The road for this ministerial program was opened by the Law on
Education, adopted on 29.10.98.

The initial motif of the program - to change the ethnic-demographic
situation in the country. And with the term "normalizing of the
ethnic-demographic situation" the program understands increasing the
number of residents "identifying themselves as Latvians".

The Program names the schools with the Russian language of tuition to
be the main obstacle on the way to create Latvian learning environment
and integration into the society in Latvia. The main (!) task of the
Ministry it sees gradual increasing of the number of subjects taught
in the Latvian language at schools with a different language of
tuition and establishing the normative legal basis to ensure gradual
transition from education in the Russian language to education in the
state language. 

Ministry's Program and the Law on Education envisage a transition to
education in the secondary school (grades 10 -12) in the Latvian
language and introduction of bilingual education in the primary school
(grades 1 - 9).

>From several dozens of existing in the world models of bilingual
education Latvia has chosen the "transitional". Bilingual education is
first of all used as a means of transition to education in the Latvian
language in the secondary school. 

Ministry of Education and Science tries to introduce in schools
bilingual models without developed methodology of bilingual education,
without preliminary training of teachers, without the necessary
textbooks and study aids. 

Content of the problem

The Program of the Ministry of Education and Science has a political
goal - with the means of school education, to achieve assimilation of
non-Latvian population. 

The consequence of the transition to tuition in the Latvian language
(or to education of national minorities in Latvia basically in the
Latvian language) at the most favorable conditions of tuition will be
more or less noticeable replacement students' mother tongue with the
Latvian language, dependence on the Latvian language, decreasing the
knowledge of students' mother tongue. 

Implementation of unprepared and insufficiently supplied reforms at
the fixed intensity of transition to the tuition in the Latvian
language may also result in: 
- stopping and depressing the development of thinking and natural
abilities of the student;
- decreasing the amount of acquired by kids knowledge; 
- loss of ties with the cultural environment of the family;
- acquiring of psychological complex of helplessness by the student;
- low ability to compet in the labor market.

The conference demands:

1. To change radically the doctrine of education policy concerning
national minorities in Latvia - first of all, concerning Russian
linguistic minority and not to use it as a means of assimilation of
non-Latvian population of Latvia;

2. To direct the national education policy in the multi national
society of Latvian to serve interests not only of the ethnic but also
the linguistic minorities;

3. To preserve in school most of education in the mother tongue
environment, favoring development of thinking and natural abilities of
students, and for this to ensure education in the students' tongue,
first of all in the general subjects;

4. To ensure preparation of teachers for teaching general subjects in
schools where the language of tuition is a national minority language,
in particular - the Russian language. And for this it is necessary to
resume preparation of teachers in the Russian language in the higher
education institutions of Latvia and also to assist residents of
Latvia to receive higher education in the languages of national
minorities in foreign higher education institutions with subsequent
nostrification of these diplomas in Latvia;

5. Top improve teaching of the Latvian language at schools, using the
methodology developed the National Latvian Language Training Program
(LAT-2);

6. To introduce bilingual education only when there is adequate
financial and methodological support, in realistic time schedule. It 
is not permissible to reduce the amount of knowledge received by
students during the transition period to the bilingual education and
subsequent decreasing of their competitive ability on the labor market
and in continuing their education process;

7. To develop a bilingual integration course "Lettonica" for
educational programs of national minorities. This course has to
provide an integrated system of knowledge on Latvia as their
motherland, combining learning Latvian history, geography,
ethnography, culture, literature, environment of living. To envisage
in senior classes teaching of some subjects in the Latvian language at
the same time preserving dominance of students' mother tongue;

8. To resume teaching in the Russian language in the state higher
education institutions - a condition to reproduce intellectuals from
families belonging to the Russian linguistic minority;

9. To introduce amendments in the National Program on Integration of 
the Society in Latvia aimed at changing the education policy
concerning national minorities.

--------------
LASHOR - Association for Support of Russian Language Schools in Latvia

Conference of Parents of Latvia "To Study in Mother Tongue"
Riga, November 25, 2000

Address to the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia

On guarantees for education in mother tongue

Education in one's mother tongue - an inalienable human right, main
condition for development of person's thinking and natural abilities,
self-confidence, reproduction of one's cultural identity. Replacement
of tuition in one's mother tongue with dominant tuition in the Latvian
language in the schools of minorities of Latvia leads to assimilation
of students. 

The juridical foundation of the school reform - the Law on Education
of the Republic of Latvia. The law is unfair and undemocratic. It does
not comply with international human rights legislation, in particular
with the provisions of the UNESCO Convention against discrimination in
education, the principles of which should be respected by all UN
member-states, as well as the Council of Europe Framework Convention
for the Protection of National Minorities, signed also by Latvia. 

While international documents orient states to increase possibilities
for national minorities to receive education in their mother tongue,
in Latvia the state policy is directed towards decreasing the amount
of education in the languages of national minorities, first of all in
the Russian language, within the already existing system of education. 

The conference demands to ensure for residents of Latvia a democratic
choice of the language of tuition for their children in state financed
schools - first of all, to guarantee receiving of education in one's
mother tongue. 

The conference demands to stipulate in the legislation of the Republic
of Latvia guarantees for national minorities to receive education in
the language of national minorities and linguistic minorities of
Latvia. 

The conference finds it necessary:

1. For the Republic of Latvia to ratify in full amount the CoE
Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities;

2. Adopt a law of the Republic of Latvia on protection of national and
linguistic (language) minorities, paying special attention to
education in languages of minorities as a mean of protecting language
minorities;

3. In the Law on Education of the Republic of Latvia give guarantees
for receiving school education (basic, secondary and vocational) in
the language of minorities, as well as linguistic minorities of
Latvia. In particular;
- to guarantee the right of receiving basic, secondary and vocational
education in the Russian language;
- to guarantee the right of receiving basic, secondary and vocational
education in the languages of minorities, if a sufficient number of
persons express a wish for an appropriate education institutions to be
established;

4. Exclude from the Law on Education the norm permitting the Ministry
of Education and Science to determine subjects tuition of which should
be in the Latvian language and give schools the right to determine
themselves the subjects to be learned in the Latvian language;

5. Exclude from the Law on Education the demand to start tuition only
in the state language from September 1, 2004 in the grade 10 of state
secondary general education institutions and secondary education
institutions of local governments, as well as on the first course of
vocational state institutions and vocational education institutions of
local governments;

6. Create in the structure of educational system a Minorities'
Education Board. The Head of this Board has to be approved to this
position by the Minister of Education and Science upon a
recommendation of the Public Consultative Council consisting from
representatives of schools administrations, teachers, NGOs, parents
and students. The Board has to operate in accordance with the
regulations adopted by the Ministry of Education and Science in
agreement with the Public Consultative Council. 

-------------------
LASHOR - Association for Support of Russian Language Schools in Latvia

Conference of Parents of Latvia "To Study in Mother Tongue"

Riga, November 25, 2000

Address to Latvia - Russia Intergovernmental Committee

When the tuition in the Russian language at the higher education
institutions of Latvia was ceased, professional training of the
qualified teachers teaching main general subjects at schools with the
tuition in the Russian language has decreased very much or stopped,
conditions for the reproduction of cultural identity of Russian
linguistic minority and the reproduction of intellectuals has got
worse. 

The Conference invites Latvia-Russia Intergovernmental Committee to
co-operate in:

1. Signing the international agreement on co-operation in the field of
education;

2. Establishing the local departments of the state universities of
Moscow, St.Petersburg in Riga;

3. Professional training of teachers, who are residents of the
Republic of Latvia, at the higher education institutions of Russian
Federation for their further employment at Latvian schools with the
Russian language of tuition (schools providing educational programmes
for national minorities) with granted recognition of Russia's diploma
on acquired higher education in pedagogy in Latvia; 

4. Allocation of partly funding from Russia for teaching the Russian
language, literature and history at schools providing education
programmes in Russian;

5. Application of study books and methodological materials published
and developed in Russia at Latvian schools.

-------------------
LASHOR - Association for Support of Russian Language Schools in Latvia

Conference of parents of Latvia "To Study in Mother Tongue"
Riga, November 25, 2000

On LASHOR authorisations 

The Conference authorises the Association for Support of Russian
Language Schools in Latvia to voice the interests of Conference's
participants and authorises LASHOR to represent their interests in
communication with the state institutions, legislative institutions
and executive authorities of the Republic of Latvia, as well as
international organisations. 

The Conference commissions to submit the documents of the Conference
to the respective authorities and institutions of the Republic of
Latvia and international institutions and reach the implementation of
Conference's resolutions. 

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