Latvian Education Reform Constitutes Departure From Finely-Tuned Bilingual System - OSCE

Latvian Education Reform Constitutes Departure From Finely-Tuned Bilingual System - OSCE

Latvia's education reform, which would effectively prevent schools from teaching in minority languages, represents a retreat from the model of bilingual education that had worked well in the country in the past, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Lamberto Zannier told Sputnik

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 10th June, 2019) Latvia's education reform, which would effectively prevent schools from teaching in minority languages, represents a retreat from the model of bilingual education that had worked well in the country in the past, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Lamberto Zannier told Sputnik.

Last March, the Latvian parliament passed a package of amendments to the country's education law, which included a measure to make Latvian the main teaching language in minority schools. The reform was challenged in court by the country's Social Democratic party Harmony, which advocates the rights of Russian-language minorities in the country, arguing that the proposed measures went against the Latvian constitution.

However, the Constitutional Court found this April that the reform was lawful.

"In Latvia, which I visited in March, I recognize the intended objectives behind the education reform, which, however, constitutes a departure from a previously well-functioning model of bilingual education based on the advice of my institution," Zannier said.

Latvia has a population of about 2 million people, over 30 percent of whom are Russian speakers. The only state language in the country is Latvian, while all other languages, including Russian, have the status of foreign language. Russian-speaking residents have repeatedly protested against the government's plan to force the schools of ethnic minorities to switch to Latvian-language education.

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