Saeima okays move to primary education in Latvian language only

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In the final reading on September 29, the Saeima supported a gradual transition to teaching only in the official language at the general education and pre-school level.

63 MPs supported the amendments, while 16 were against. 

The changes to the law provide for a gradual transition to teaching only in the official language in pre-primary and primary education over three years. 

From September 1, 2023, pre-primary education will only be carried out in the official language. Accordingly, a minority pre-primary education program and a minority special pre-primary education program will no longer be implemented.

The changes concern both local government and private preschools and kindergartens.

In primary education, the transition will be gradual:

  • from September 1, 2023, education will be fully in the official language for years 1, 4, and 7;
  • from September 1, 2024, for years 2, 5, and 8;
  • from September 1, 2025, for years 3, 6, and 9.

Minority learners will be provided opportunities to acquire minority languages and cultural history within the framework of a State and local government-paid interest education program.

In vocational education institutions, the teaching language will be narrowed to languages of the European Union.

Teachers will be required to be able to use the official language at level C. Support mechanisms are planned, such as providing means of training, organizing teacher language training courses, and providing support to teachers for work in a linguistically heterogeneous environment.  The State has also committed to participating in the costs of the extracurricular education program for minority language and cultural history.

The Education Ministry has previously indicated that the changes would apply to 17% of teachers an 24% of pupils in pre-primary and primary education.

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