Lithuania ties minorities’ educational tongue

RIA Novosti / Vitaly Ankov
The Lithuanian parliament has adopted a law that cuts school hours for Russian language classes in Russian schools. Teachers say the law violates the rights of national minorities.

­Under the new rules, starting in the next academic year the country’s history, geography, as well natural history and civil studies will be taught in Lithuanian. The law also provides that school hours for the national language should not exceed the amount of lessons of Lithuanian. All this will lead to the drastic reduction of academic hours of disciplines taught in the native language.

From 2013 all school graduates from both Lithuanian and national minority schools should pass a standardized Lithuanian language exam, which sets the same requirements for native and non-native speakers of Lithuanian.

“The step has nothing to do with the integration of national minorities, on the contrary, it’s a direct violation of their rights. It is definitely a road to complete assimilation,” said head of the Association of Russian school teachers Ella Kanaite. She added that the country’s “democracy” has double standards. Indeed, she added, the parliament which adopted the law flatly ignored more than 60,000 signatures collected by Russian and Polish diasporas in support of their constitutional right to education in their native language.

“But we are not going to stop,”
Kanaite said. “There are European institutions where we are going to appeal.”