Saeima takes first step in language reform

The Latvian Saeima on February 8 sent language reform amendments for review in the Saeima Education, culture and science committee. 

Previously the Latvian government agreed to start gradual transition to Latvian as the sole language of instruction in schools on September 1, 2019.

The two bills concerning the changes were supported by 66 and 67 votes 'for' and 21 votes 'against'. MP Juris Vilums (Latvian Association of Regions) did not participate in both votes.

The language reform would see all general education subjects, or core curriculum, being taught only in the Latvian language by 2021.

Minority students are expected to retain the ability to learn minority languages, literature and cultural and historical subjects in other languages, however.

Protests by the Saeima on February 8 accompanied the move. 

Several other protests have been held against the education reform in the past. In response to the step, Riga mayor Nils Ušakovs has said that starting September 1, 2019 his municipality will offer extra lessons for minority language students, held in their native language.

Controversial politician Tatjana Ždanoka, seen as one of the most fervent supporters of pro-Kremlin policies, meanwhile plans to leave the European Parliament and hopes to run in the Saeima elections due to take place in October. She is one of the most vocal opponents of the language reform. 

At a previous protest, LSM spoke to one of the organizers, Miroslavs Mitrofanovs of the Latvia's Russian Union party on his views on the subject.

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