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Saeima turns down censure motion against education minister

The majority of Latvian lawmakers on Thursday rejected the censure motion against Education and Science Minister Karlis Sadurskis (Unity), proposed by the opposition.

The 100-member parliament voted down the proposal by the opposition Harmony party with 57 votes against and 35 votes for. There were no abstentions but two MPs did not participate in the vote.

Harmony MP Andrejs Elksnins said earlier his party had proposed a censure motion against Sadurskis in relation to the botched teachers' wage reform, legislative amendments providing for sacking of teachers disloyal to Latvia and other so-called "reforms" initiated by the education minister.

Representatives of the ruling coalition parties said before that they would not back the censure motion as it was just an element of the election campaign and a publicity trick on part of Harmony.

Addressing the lawmakers today, Sadurskis also said that the censure motion had nothing to do with the performance of the Education and Science Ministry. He said he knew the education minister's portfolio would not make him popular but he was determined to improve situation in the education sector.

Speaking in defense of Sadurskis, Solvita Aboltina, the chairwoman of the Unity's parliamentary faction, said that politicians working to bring about changes usually put their political careers at risk but ability to implement reforms was a very positive quality in politicians. The Latvian education system clearly needs the reforms, she said.

Previously Sadurskis explained to the parliamentary committee on education, culture and science that there was no teachers' wage model that could compensate for reduction in the number of children by 5-10 percent in schools of separate municipalities.

The minister underscored that it is not the ministry that pays wages to teachers. The local government as the founder of schools distributes financing to schools and then schools themselves calculate wages to be paid to teachers, he said, commenting on reproaches that salaries to some teachers have decreased after the teachers' wage reform which took effect on September 1 and was supposed to increase salaries to the teaching staff.

Sadurskis was recently confirmed as the least popular minister in Latvia and has recently come under fire amid talk of steeply reducing the number of state-sponsored university students in the next few years as Latvia is carrying out reforms in education.

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