• July 24, 2018
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Conservatives: 60 percent of subjects in national minorities schools – in Lithuanian language

Agnė Bilotaitė, Laurynas Kasčiūnas i Audronius Ažubalis from the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats has introduced today at the Seimas amendments to the Law on Education, according to which teaching of no less than 60 percent of the subjects in schools of national minorities would be conducted in Lithuanian language. Members of the Seimas propose that the regulations should be in effect since 2023.

“In many scientific researches it has been proven that language is an important integration factor which reduces social range and feeling of isolation. Knowledge of national language by minorities is estimated to be extremely important for the well-being in our country. For example, in year 2006, 62 percent of Poles in Lithuania stated that they would like to teach their children in the Lithuanian language. In other surveys, those polled state decisively that language is the main factor that helps to become known on the labour market” – mentioned Laurynas Kasčiūnas, presenting the motives for initiating the amendments.

According to the member of the Seimas, another reason for introducing the changes are the results of the Lithuanian language national exam – in the year 2017, 80.5 percent of students from national minorities schools and 90 percent of students from Lithuanian schools passed the exam.

Just to remind, in accordance with the Law on Education from the year 2011, since the year 2013 recent secondary-school graduates of Polish schools in Lithuania hand in the same secondary-school graduate exam from Lithuanian language as their peers from Lithuanian schools. Nevertheless, the curriculum in Lithuanian and none-Lithuanian schools was unified not until the year 2011. Thus, the first secondary-school graduates from national minority schools who took the Lithuanian exam on the native tongue level had had more than 700 hundred hours of the language less than learners from Lithuanian schools. With each year the difference decreases however we would need several years transition period in order for the learners to have equal chances on the exam.

Members of the Seimas of the conservative party state that benefits on the Lithuanian language exam are however an example of unequal chances and this model of positive discrimination should be abandoned.

“While there exist some gaps in teaching of the state language in the country, some neighbouring countries, e.g. Poland, are applying benefits in recruitment to colleges for people of Polish origin. By doing that, learners from national minority schools, who possibly during twenty years have not reached a suitable knowledge level of  Lithuanian language, are using the favourable chance of going to college in Poland, thus increasing the emigration” – stated Laurynas Kasčiūnas.

“Good knowledge of a state language is the key to successful social and occupational life. With the aim of doing so, we are suggesting that no less than 60 percent of the subjects in schools of national minorities would be conducted in Lithuanian language and the rest 40 percent in the native language. Since we understand that such changes require preparations, we suggest them to come into effect in the year 2023” – stresses the member of the Seimas Agnė Bilotaitė.

Audronius Ažubalis has yet noticed that members of the Seimas have based their amendments on the Estonian model.

“Each country has got its own specific and there are no common rules of having relations with national minorities. However, the Baltic countries have a similar history – after the war a lot of migrants, colonists ended up here. The fact that numerous and varied national minorities are here, became a rewarding aim of the hybrid war of Kreml. We can see how often – starting from financing and ending on various provocations – national communities are divided, turned against the state. I believe that that knowledge of the language, history, traditions of the titular nation should be important for these national communities representatives who truly want to become equal citizens of our countries” – said Ažubalis.

“We believe that in long perspective the means suggested by us would strengthen the social construction, the agreement between the citizens and the third sides would find it harder to set us at variance” – added the politician.

Translated by Artur Kuropas within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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