On Thursday the Latvian Seim rejected the proposal on abolishing the law that envisages that all state and municipal secondary schools of ethnic minorities, including Russian schools, should teach only in the Lettish language since September 1, 2004.
The proposal was submitted by MPs from the faction of the opposition left-wing party union "For Human Rights in an Integrated Latvia". It received only 18 votes, 16 of them from the Union's members. 18 MPs abstained from the vote, while 49 members of the Seim, representing parties of the ruling coalition, voted against it. Deputy from the For Fatherland and Freedom/Latvian National Independence Movement Union, which is a member of the coalition, Juris Dobelis called the proposal "a joke", pointing out that the nationalist majority of the Latvian parliament would never allow adopting such initiatives.
Deputy from the Union, prominent Latvian teacher Jakov Pliner, in his turn, described the policy of the Latvian authorities in educating ethnic minorities as "short-sighted and unprofessional", and disagreeing with international documents concerning the rights of ethnic minorities. According to a research conducted by the Baltic Institute of Social Sciences, Russian schools in Latvia comprise almost 50 per cent of all schools in the country and are not ready to start teaching all subjects in Lettish, he said. Most of teachers in Russian schools and parents of their pupils believe that the experimental "bilingual education" has already resulted in a worse level of pupils' knowledge and has affected their health.