- MPs discussed results of a research “State Language Proficiency Testing in Latvia (2001-2012)”
- All groups of free-of-charge Latvian language courses in Riga filled in three days
Vesti Segodnya reports that yesterday, the Saeima’s Society Consolidation Committee discussed results of a research “State Language Proficiency Testing in Latvia (2001-2012).” According to the statistics, 90,883 persons got tested for Latvian language proficiency from 2001 to 2012, and 9,625 persons in 2013. The biggest number of persons who received state language proficiency certificates was in 2009 and 2010. In 2010, more than 10,000 people got tested. Such record is connected with the economic crisis when many people lost their job and needed language proficiency certificate in order to find a new job. The MPs noted that many ethnic non-Latvians have the certificate yet cannot speak Latvian and discussed whether such people should be retested. The representative of the State Language Centre Antons Kursitis said that the main problem regarding language issues in Latvia is self-sufficiency of Russian language. Mr Kursitis said that the way how to solve the existing situation is transfer all state funded education into Latvian language only.
All groups of free-of-charge Latvian language courses funded by the Riga City Council got filled in three days. As reported, the City Council granted funding for Latvian language courses for 1,200 Riga residents. Latvijas Avize
- Two years passed since the referendum on granting Russian language status of a state language in Latvia
- „Russian Dawn” prepares an initiative for national referendum aimed at solving problems of Russian speaking residents
- Governing coalition suspended the draft amendments to the Criminal Law stipulating punishment for public denial of USSR and Nazi German aggression against Latvia
Newspapers reports that today, a two-year mark has passed since the referendum on granting Russian language the status of a state language in Latvia. According to Vesti Segodnya, the referendum resulted in toughening of some legal requirements. For instance, the Saeima made more complicated a procedure on initiating of national referendum; the Labour Law was amended with prohibition to indicate in a job announcement requirements for foreign language proficiency without good reasons. Moreover, the new governing coalition agreed about transition of education in ethnic minority schools into Latvian language starting with 2018. Latvijas Avize interviews politicians and experts on what is their opinion about the consequences of the referendum. Thus, the ex-Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis says that following the referendum, the government has elaborated a program for upcoming years and granted funding in amount of more than 1 million euros for Latvian language courses, cooperation with NGOs, elaboration of materials about Latvian language to ethnic minority schools; and for support of TV programs about history. Mr Dombrovskis believes that the referendum resulted in the biggest discussion about fundamental values for Latvia during the last 20 years and helped residents to understand their duties before the state and nation. The MP Raivis Dzintars (nationalists union) believes the referendum showed how big is potential of its initiators to mobilise ideologically part of the Latvian society. He also believes that in order to prevent such initiatives in future the government at least should introduce patriotic education program in schools, adopt the “brave” Preamble to the Constitution, or to prohibit discrimination of those who are not proficient in Russian. A well-known writer and journalist Marina Kostonecka believes that the referendum was a huge provocation and the main aim of its initiators was to draw attention at problems ethnic Russian residents have in general, however, the politicians did nothing to find the real reasons and decrease the split in the society.
The movement „Russian Dawn” and its leaders Illarions Girs and Jevgenijs Osipovs are preparing an initiative for national referendum aimed at solving problems of Russian speaking residents of Latvia. “Russian Dawn” will demand for restoration of education in Russian language as it existing before 2004; for depoliticization of naturalisation process, for recognition of non-Latvian names in native transliteration (without Latvianisation), for giving status of bank holidays to Christian Orthodox celebrations; for street signs in Russian language in regions densely populated by non-Latvians. According to “Russian Dawn” such legal initiative does not require amendments in the Constitution of Latvia and it should be supported by 229,429 persons. Vesti Segodnya
The governing coalition suspended the draft amendments to the Criminal Law stipulating punishment for public denial of USSR and Nazi German aggression against Latvia, for justification, glorification or for malicious, rude or offensive attempt to question the fact of aggression. According to a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, such amendments are not coordinated with the bodies defending Latvia in international institutions and those were not evaluated in accordance with the court practice of the European Court of Human Rights.
- Vesti Segodnya prints an article about the low rate of naturalisation in Latvia
- Riga City Council granted funding to eight projects on Latvian language courses
Vesti Segodnya prints an article about the low rate of naturalisation in Latvia. Presently, there are about 282,000 non-citizens or 13% of all population in Latvia. According to the head of the Naturalisation Board Igors Gorbunovs, the naturalisation rate is stabile and low for past seven years. During 2013 the naturalisation rate dropped even more – only 1939 applications were submitted (in previous years there were about 2-3 thousands application per year). However, the number of non-citizens decreases by about 20,000 every year not only due to naturalisation but also because the non-citizens die, emigrate or choose citizenship of another country. Integration expert Deniss Hanovs believes that it is important to make Latvian citizenship more attractive in terms of benefits people can gain from it. Representative of the Congress of Non-Citizens Elizabete Krivcova believes that it would be useful to make naturalisation exams easier for older people. Mrs Krivcova also believes that the governing parties are not interested in solving problem of non-citizenship.
The Education, Culture and Sports Department of the Riga City Council granted funding in amount of EUR 114,783 to eight projects on Latvian language courses. The courses will be available to about 1,200 Riga residents who want to gain A and B state language proficiency level, excluding schools students and unemployed persons.
- Saeima forwarded the draft Introduction to the Constitution of Latvia for revision to the Legal Committee
Yesterday, the majority of the Saeima forwarded the draft Introduction (in the previous versions called Preamble) to the Constitution of Latvia for revision to the Legal Committee. The revised Preamble became shorter and its author Egils Levits has taken out a notion “state nation” which was addressed to ethnic Latvians. According to the head of the Saeima’s Legal Committee Ilma Cepane, the notion of “state nation” was taken out but its meaning remained in the text. The Introduction to the Constitution says “Latvia was established uniting ethnic Latvians in historical land, based on a firm state will of ethnic Latvian nation and its irrevocable rights for self-determination in order to guarantee existence and development of ethnic Latvian nation, its language and culture through centuries, insure freedom of every person and all nations and promote welfare.” It also says that “Our identity in European cultural space was formed by of ethnic Latvian nation’s traditions and wisdom, Latvian language, universal human and Christian values.” Diena, Neatkariga, Vesti Segodnya
- Latvijas Avize prints an article about ethnic Russian students who chosen to study in Latvian language schools
- Overwhelming majority of respondents interviewed by Vesti Segodnya are ready to take part in protest actions against language reform in minority schools
- Director of a Russian language school: the right of the parents to choose education for their children should be respected
- Ombudsman Juris Jansons met with the President of Latvia Andris Berzins
Latvijas Avize prints an article about ethnic Russian students who chosen to study in Latvian language schools. According to a director of the most prestigious school in Latvia - Riga State 1st Gymnasium, there is no specific data about how many ethnic minority children study in the school but there is a tendency that number of such students in the school grows. The statistics collected by the Education Ministry, in its turn, shows that only about 4% of ethnic Russian students choose Latvian language schools and in the past years this number dropped a little. There is no data why do ethnic minorities choose Latvian language schools and how do they feel there. Seven ethnic minority students of the 1st Gymnasium interviewed by the newspaper, said that they have chosen to study in this school not because wanted to improve Latvian language proficiency but because of high education quality. According to the students, they did not have any major difficulties studying in Latvian language environment. These students also do not support the idea to transfer education in ethnic minority schools into Latvian language and believe that at least primary education should be in a native language. All the interviewed young people also said that after graduation they are planning to study abroad. The schools director says that ethnic minority students who enter the Gymnasium in 10th grade easier get integrated in the school environment because in most of the cases it is their personal decision.
Vesti Segodnya publishes opinion of about 50 persons about government’s plans to transfer education in ethnic minority schools into Latvian language. The overwhelming majority of respondents are against such reform and ready to take part in protest actions. At the same, time people do not know how to protect the existing education system and wait for more specific plan from activists for protection of ethnic minority schools.
Commenting a discussion between the directors of ethnic minority schools the Ombudsman Juris Jansons about education in minority schools held last week, director of one of the Russian language schools in Riga said that she hopes the idea that Latvia is not ready to transfer ethnic minority education into Latvian language was properly communicated to the Ombudsman. According to the director, the right of the parents to choose education for their children should be respected. Vesti Segodnya
According to Vesti Segodnya, the Ombudsman Juris Jansons during his meeting with the President of Latvia Andris Berzins pointed at education quality in Russian language schools. The Ombudsman said according to the monitoring conducted by the Ombudsman’s Office, students, teachers and even directors in some schools have poor Latvian language proficiency and such factor violates rights of a child for dignified education and development. Mr Jansons said that there will be language reform in 2018 because already now the legal acts say that education in Latvia is in state language.