Latvia lacks free language courses on offer, says De Facto

Latvia offers too few Latvian language courses for free, reports LTV's De Facto on December 10. 

According to the program, about 150,000 people in the country aren't proficient in Latvian or don't speak it at all. That's about as many as the population of Daugavpils, Ventspils, and Liepāja (large Latvian cities and towns) put together.

Free language tuition on the national level is offered by two organizations, the State Employment Agency (NVA) which offers language courses to people out of work; and the Society Integration Foundation (SIF) which offers it to everyone else.

Meanwhile there are several municipalities, especially Riga, that are also offering courses. Demand is very high, with the courses usually fulling up on the first day.

However the number of people offered free Latvian lessons at the NVA, SIF and the Riga municipality has decreased from 7,000 in 2012 to just over 3,000 in 2017.

State funding for this task has decreased from €200,000 to €100,000 within the same period. 

"There should be [free] courses, and they should be maintained, but not on a greater scale than they are now. What's most important is whether the people will have the chance - and necessity - to use their knowledge of Latvian," says former Education Minister Ina Druviete, who signed the latest policy document for developing the state language.

"We've come to a stage.. where we must pay much more attention to language use in non-formal settings, where it is not required by the law but rather by the logic through which our society is growing," she says.

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