On Thursday, 29 September, the Saeima supported in the final reading amendments to the Education Law and the General Education Law, stipulating a gradual three-year transition to the state language as the only language of instruction in pre-school and basic education.
According to the explanatory note of the Draft Law, the amendments set out to introduce gradual transition to the state language as the only language of instruction at the pre-school and basic education level to promote successful implementation of the updated curriculum and education approach in all education institutions of Latvia.
The authors of the Draft Law at the Ministry of Education and Science of Latvia note that the current approach to the language of instruction in minority education programmes has not fully promoted adequate levels of state language acquisition throughout all levels of education. Insufficient level of state language skills can limit social integration and prevent the development of a successful professional career.
In order to ensure the acquisition of minority languages and cultural history in accordance to the Constitution and the international commitments of the Republic of Latvia, the amendments provide an opportunity to acquire minority languages and cultural history within interest education programmes at the primary education level. Such programmes shall be funded by the state and the local governments.
The Cabinet of Ministers has been delegated to develop a minority language and cultural history interest education programme model and implementation guidelines.
The amendments stipulate that pre-school and basic education students will have the right to receive individualised and personalised support for the acquisition of state language skills, if necessary.
From 1 September 2023, the basic education programmes of general education will be fully organised in Latvian only for Forms 1, 4, and 7; from 1 September 2024, for Forms 2, 5, and 8; and from 1 September 2025, for Forms 3, 6, and 9. Additionally, pre-school education will only be organised in the state language from 1 September 2023.
The amendments also serve to further develop the regulation concerning the state language skills of and use by the heads and teachers of education institutions.
The authors of the Draft Law estimate that the transition to Latvian as the language of instruction will affect 17% of the teachers and 24% to the students enrolled in minority pre-school and basic education programmes.
Saeima Press Service