15 Liepāja teachers lose jobs over Latvian language proficiency

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Since teachers in Latvia have had to pass the official – Latvian – language proficiency tests, 15 teachers have lost their jobs permanently or temporarily in Liepāja, Kurzeme Television reported on May 11.

At Liepāja 3rd Secondary School, in which learning is bilingual, the official language tests launched by the State Education Content Center proved to be an insurmountable obstacle for seven teachers.

“The three teachers have been suspended from work right now, until July 5, they have been given time to improve Latvian language skills. Unfortunately, the fact is that four more teachers themselves stopped their employment relationship on April 28, because they decided independently that they were better off not working at school than to learn,” the school principal Gaļina Skorobogatova said.

Four more teachers have also chosen the same way at Liepaja 7th High School. Another educator has lost her job in Liepāja's pre-school education institution “Liesmiņa” because of the official language test.

"The natural process of sorting has begun. With people who have said openly that they will not be able to do this [pass the exam], we have stopped working legal relations,” said Pāvels Jurs, principal of Liepāja 7th High School.

Three teachers at the 7th High School have not yet passed official language proficiency tests. Two of them have been on sick leave for a long time. The long-standing absence of staff was suspicious to the principal, so he asked the Health Inspectorate to assess the validity of the issuing of sick leaves. “These three teachers have abused the law, in my understanding, namely, instead of passing the test – and it is natural to know Latvian, and its testing is absolutely not complicated – they have chosen a path called the sick leave,” Jurs said.

Health Inspectorate spokeswoman Iveta Balode informed that at the beginning of April, the Inspectorate requested medical documents from the family doctors of these educators and three separate tests have been launched, the results of which could be known in early June. During tests, inspection doctors and experts will see records of patient visits, health complaints, referrals to investigations, and their results.

The Inspectorate has not received other submissions regarding suspicious cases of teacher illness until now.

The absence of teachers has not materially affected the learning process. “The good story is that the school works, we have found a new teacher, so that the training process is taking place,” Jurs said.

But Liepājas 3rd Secondary School principal acknowledged that a tragic situation is with a math teacher: "It is sudden, especially now, in May, when there are exams, state tests, finding a math teacher who is willing to work full-time is almost impossible. "

Liepāja City Education Board pointed out that the shortage of 15 teachers in the population of approximately 800 teachers was not a large number, so there is no reason to consider the situation as extreme.

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