Education Minister Šuplinska: I've received threats over language reform

Education Minister Ilga Šuplinska (New Conservative Party) says she has received threatening texts and angry opinions over the language reform providing for a gradual transition to education in Latvian in all public schools.

Appearing on Latvian Radio September 25, she said that the Education Ministry is prepared to review complaints by parents and students about the problems of the reform, for example, about teachers with insufficient language skills.

But she said that instead people send threatening messages on the phone. "These are messages not to be re-told to a public audience, and they often come from Russian-language families or parents whose children go to [minority-language] schools," she said.

She nevertheless said that if she'd react to everything that's being posted on social media and sent to her phone, her work would become paralyzed.

Šuplinska did not specify whether the threatening messages are of such a nature that she'd have to turn to the police. "It depends," she said, adding that she usually blocks people who send her "flowery reviews" about her work.

Legislative amendments providing for a transition to education in Latvian in all public schools are being implemented gradually from September 1, 2019, to September 1, 2021.

Starting from the age of five, new education guidelines have been introduced in the 2019/2020 academic year, providing for a bigger role of the Latvian language in the study process.

A new bilingual education model will eventually be introduced in grades 1-6, ensuring that at least 50 percent of the subjects are taught in Latvian, and in grades 7-9, ensuring that at least 80 percent of the study contents is in Latvian in 2019/2020. The final exams for the 9th grade pupils will be held entirely in Latvian.

Starting from 2021/2022 school year all general education subjects in high school (grades 10-12) will be taught only in the Latvian language, while children of ethnic minorities will continue learning their native language, literature and subjects related to culture and history in the respective minority language.

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