• November 10, 2011
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National minorities have to assimilate

“Lithuania is not heading towards a monocultural country, but the national minorities need to assimilate as much as possible… It is mostly for their own sake and a better future..  The current liberal educational policy of Lithuania towards the national minorities’ schools has led to their isolation” – this is how in a few statements one can report the main idea of the meeting on the perspectives for the national minorities’ education, held in the Ministry of Education and Science.

The government is preparing a new educational strategy.

Yesterday, at the ministry’s building an open debate was held on the perspectives for the national minorities’ education. The meeting, presided by Vaidas Bacys, the Deputy Minister of Education, and Stanislaw Widtmann, the Deputy Minister of Culture, was attended by ministry officials, heads of departments of education, councilors of local governments and school principals. Representatives of national minorities were also invited to present their proposals for developing a new strategy.

However, the meeting was limited to “playing towards one goal,” as it was defined by Irena Karpavičienė, the deputy headmaster of the Gymnasium in Niemenczyn. The sociologists and educational policy analysts rather tendentiously presented, one by one, the “cons” of Lithuania’s current educational policy, the result of which is that the level of education in national minorities’schools is, in their opinion, much lower than in Lithuanian schools.  The minorities’ school graduates do not know the state language and are much less educated than Lithuanians. The specialists strongly advocated for the need of the integration of education in Lithuania, mostly, in their opinion, in order to avoid the isolation of minorities in the Lithuanian society and to create equal opportunities with the Lithuanians.

“The goal of the Ministry is to confirm the adopted Education Law with a new document (“The perspectives for national minority education” – ed.), and also with the addition of all the national minorities’ approval. Today’s meeting revealed a tendency to define absolutely all the schools of the South-Eastern Lithuania, where children from Polish and Belarusian families are taught, as national minorities’ schools. In that way these schools could receive all the additional privileges, thus completely clipping the wings of the schools with Polish or Russian as their language of instruction,” commented about the meeting in the ministry Józef Kwiatkowski, a councilor of the city of Vilnius on behalf of EAPL and President of “Alma Mater”, in an interview for “Kurier Wileński”.

The proposals brought up by the representatives of national minorities to preserve the status quo of minority schools and create conditions in schools so that children could not only learn the state language, but also preserve their national identity, seemed to go unheard. Unofficially, one could even overhear such statements as, “Why are they so afraid of that Lithuanian, as the devil that fears the cross?”…

Directors of various schools in Lithuania suggested that the Lithuanian schools which have a lot of children of other nationalities should receive a formal status of national minorities’… institution, and the ministry should develop additional methods which would create a better opportunity for those children to learn the state language.

When approached by us to comment on such proposals and the debates going in this direction, Edward Trusewicz, a secretary of The Association of Poles in Lithuania and a councilor of the city of Vilnius on behalf of EAPL, called them  nonsense.

“The ideas of such pseudopatriots are only additionally complicating the issue and subverting the very idea of national minorities’ schools. These proposals are introducing destruction, while what we really need is a constructive dialogue. Debate is necessary, but not such as the one today, when one side is speaking and the other doesn’t want to listen. Kindness is what is needed mostly now and  it was really missing today,” told “Kurier” Trusewicz.

“The Ministry of Education continues to play towards one goal. It only highlights the problems of the Vilnius Lithuanian schools – that they are treated unfairly, that the collection is not enough to maintain them. And during today’s meeting I heard a very “interesting” thing – that Lithuania is missing  teaching methodologies for students of the minorities who go to Lithuanian schools,” Irena Karpavičienė, deputy headmaster of the Gymnasium of K. Parczewski in Niemenczyn, commented indignantly in an interview with our newspaper.


Tłumaczenie Anna Kołosowska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu Translated by Anna Kołosowska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu

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