Latvia Insists on Decision to Transfer Russian Schools to Latvian Language of Teaching

The Latvian government does not intend to abolish its decision to transfer Russian high and vocational schools to the Lettish language of teaching from Sept. 1, 2004, Latvian Education and Science Minister Karlis Sadurskis said Wednesday after meeting the members of the parliament's education and culture commission.

Only 10% of the Russian schools and schools of other ethnic minorities are ready for reform. According to the data of the state inspection, out of 49 checked schools only 16 are fully ready for changes, 6 are partly ready, while 15 hope to be ready by Sept. 2004; 12 schools won't have enough time to get ready for reform. Latvia has 158 schools for ethnic minorities, where about 40% of children of school age study.

In the opinion of Russian schools' headmasters, only 48% of children are ready to learn subjects in Lettish. 13% of pupils are totally unable to do it.

The majority of the pupils' parents are against this transfer. They believe this will lead to an inferior quality of education, as the teachers, due to imperfect knowledge of the language, will fail to set out and explain the subject in an easy-to-understand way; pupils will have problems with perception and the learning of terminology, while the parents can't help their children as most of them do not have sufficient knowledge of the Lettish.

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