Latvian government prepares to ban Russian as a second foreign language in schools

On 23 April, the Latvian government will decide to gradually abolish Russian as a second foreign language in general education.

Currently, Latvian schoolchildren learn English as their first foreign language from the beginning of their studies and a second foreign language from the end of primary school. Theoretically, children can learn French, German and other languages as a second foreign language, but in practice Russian is most often taught due to a lack of teachers of other languages in schools.

According to the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES), Russian is taught as a second foreign language in almost half of Latvian schools. Some schools do not offer an alternative to Russian.

According to the changes proposed by the Ministry of Education and Science, from the school year 2026/2027, schools will gradually have to offer students one of the official languages of the European Union or the member states of the European Economic Area, or a foreign language regulated by intergovernmental agreements on education, as a second foreign language at the basic education level. Russian is not such a language.

As a reminder, on 15 February the Latvian Constitutional Court ruled that the provision of the Immigration Act requiring Russian citizens to pass a language test and declare their source of income was constitutional. By September 2023, more than half of the attempts to pass the language test had failed. About three thousand Russian citizens have had to leave Latvia or try to obtain temporary legal status for other reasons.

This means that the ban on teaching in Russian makes sense and should be and should be introduced in other EU countries to reduce the propaganda influence of the Russian Federation.

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