HCNM statement to the 1026th Meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council (excerpt on language), 2014

(..) The increase in Russian-language programming provided by the public broadcaster is a positive step in reaching out to minority communities with locally produced content.

I heard from minority representatives that one of their main concerns is the future of education in minority languages amidst calls to increase the subjects taught in Latvian in minority-language schools. The current system of bilingual education has helped protect minorities’ education rights while supporting acquisition of the State language and facilitating integration. I encouraged the authorities to maintain Latvia’s robust system of education in minority languages. Changes in education should not be rushed into without adequate justification, discussion and preparation. Children’s best interests – and their rights as persons belonging to national minorities – should prevail over politics in driving education decisions.

I was glad to hear that the authorities plan to put greater emphasis on providing Latvian-language training opportunities for adults, which are in high demand. Positive incentives to use and learn Latvian, including adequate public funding of language courses, should be prioritized over the use of inspections and sanctions, which can undermine minorities’ motivation to use the State language. More emphasis should be placed on analysing the transparency and effectiveness of the work of the language inspectors. In addition, a more flexible approach to the use of other languages in the provision of public information, especially in cases involving public health and safety, would better reflect Latvia’s linguistic diversity and help promote inclusion. (..)

Document data: 20.11.2014. Link: http://www.osce.org/pc/127063?download=true

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