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Latvian government backs ban on Russian language as optional for school exams

August 08, 17:34 UTC+3 RIGA

From now on, school students won’t get to choose the language for their exams

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© Donat Sorokin/TASS

RIGA, August 8. /TASS/. From the next school year, centralized exams at schools for ethnic minorities in Latvia will be conducted only in the state Latvian language.

From now on, school students won’t have a chance to choose the language for their exams. This is envisaged in amendments to the examination procedures drafted by the Ministry for Education and Science and approved at a government session on Tuesday.

Up until now, school students finishing Grade 9 and 12 at schools for ethnic minorities could choose the language in which they will sit their examinations - either Russian or Latvian. However, in the 2015-2016 school year, only 15% of schoolchildren opted for Russian as the language of their exams against 40% in 2008-2009.

From the 2018-2019 school year, the examinations will be conducted only in the Latvian language. Language examinations will be the only exception.

"The aim of the project is to prepare school students for successful integration into the labor market and ensure the mastering of the state language for efficient studies at professional educational establishments given that secondary professional education is mainly conducted in the state language," the Ministry for Education and Science said.

The population of Latvia is almost two million people, with ethnic Russians accounting for about 40%. Latvian is the only state language in the country, while Russian is considered a foreign language.

From September 1, 2004, the republic has already carried out a reform at schools for ethnic minorities which triggered mass protests. As a result, a two-language system of education was introduced - only 40% of subjects could be taught in Russian in the upper forms of Russian schools. Since then, Latvian nationalists have been repeatedly seeking that Latvian be the only language of teaching at all state and municipal schools for national minorities.

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