EP Culture and education committee letter to Latvia, 2019

Committee on Culture and Education

The Chair

D 303450 01.03.2019

Mr Krišjānis Kariņš

Prime Minister of the Republic of Latvia

Brīvības bulvāris 36, Rīga


IPOL-COM-CULT D (2019) 8190

Honourable Mr. Prime Minister

The European Parliament received several petitions reporting on the changes introduced by your Government to the Education Law and Law on the Institutions of Higher Education regarding the abolishing of education in minorities’ languages in universities and in high schools, including private ones, and the imposing of the additional restrictions on it in primary schools.

Linguistic diversity figures among the most salient manifestations of cultural diversity in Europe and consequently, multilingualism is a core value of the European Union, as integral to Europe as the freedom of movement, the freedom of residence and the freedom of expression. The European Charter of Fundamental Rights, which enshrines the foundational rights and freedoms protected in the EU, upholds a respect for cultural, religious, and linguistic diversity as a cornerstone of European policy.

The education systems in general and schools in particular, cannot be isolated from the sociolinguistic context and the society in which they are embedded. Indeed, school practices can influence the level of multilingualism and the attitudes towards multilingualism and multiculturality of a society as a whole. Children need to learn in their native language, especially in primary schools, as highlighted by UNESCO position paper “Education in a multilingual world”, UNESCO SDG4 – Education 2030 Framework for Action, UNESCO policy paper “If you don’t understand, how can you learn?” and OSCE Hague recommendations.

Moreover, on 7 February 2018, the European Parliament approved a resolution on protection and non-discrimination with regard to minorities in the EU Member States (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0032). This resolution encourages the Member States to ensure that the right to use a minority language is upheld and to protect linguistic diversity within the Union. It advocates respect for linguistic rights in communities where there is more than one official language, and calls on the Commission to strengthen the promotion of the teaching and use of regional and minority languages.

We are sure that you believe as we do that Europe’s linguistic diversity is a cultural and social asset and that in multilingual environments, respecting diverse linguistic identities is a requirement for recognising the equal dignity of citizens.

For that reason, on behalf the members of European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education (CULT), I would like to kindly ask you to inform the CULT Committee on the main changes introduced on the above mentioned laws and the rational for those changes.

Moreover, we call upon your Government to set as a primary goal of these laws the best interest of the children from national minority’s families.

Yours sincerely,

Petra Kammerevert

Document data: 01.03.2019 No. IPOL-COM-CULT D (2019) 8190

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