RIGA, June 8. /TASS/. The deprivation of the right to hold centralized examinations at minority schools in Latvia in the Russian language infringes upon human rights, Head of Latvia’s Society of Russian Culture, Yelena Matyakubova, said today.
"This violates human rights. This is an absolutely unprofessional and politicized step taken by the state. Initially, at the education program development stage, minority schools had the right to choose which subjects would be studied bilingually and which would be studied in Latvian or in Russian," she said in an interview to the Baltkom local radio station.
According to Matyakubova, each school for national minorities has a number of subjects that are studied both in Russian and in Latvian, which helps to achieve better results in studies. "Making school students pass all exams in the state language means destroying the concept of freedom that was initially established," she highlighted.
At present, all examination materials in Latvia are being prepared in the state language only, but school students have the right to choose between Latvian and Russian as the examination language. The country’s Education and Science Ministry said Wednesday that it had developed rules, according to which examinations must be held in the Latvian language only.
Almost 2 million people live in Latvia, 40% of which are Russian-speaking. Latvia’s sole state language is Latvian, whereas Russian is considered to be a foreign language.
Since September 1, 2004, the republic has been implementing the education reform in minority schools that caused mass protests. Eventually, a bilingual educational system was established: at Russian high schools only 40% of subjects could be studied in Russian, whereas the rest had to be studied in Latvian. After that, local nationalists made numerous, yet unsuccessful, attempts to switch all state and municipal minority schools to education in Latvian.