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Latvia Drops Russian from Schools


Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers has unanimously and without debate approved new education rules that plan for the gradual rejection of studying Russian as a second foreign language in schools from 2026.

“This is good news, finally!” was the reaction of Latvian prime minister Evika Silina. However, it is not good news for Russian president Putin, who claims that the Ukrainian invasion was needed to protect the rights of Russian speakers in the country.

Currently, Latvian students learn English as a first foreign language from kindergarten and start a second foreign language in fourth grade, which in practice is generally Russian, since there is a shortage of qualified teachers of other languages.

According to the Ministry of Education and Science, Russian is taught as a second foreign language in nearly half of all Latvian schools and is the only third language choice at some schools.

Starting in September 2025, students will be able to continue studying Russian until they graduate from high school (until the ninth grade). Then, as a second foreign language—starting from the fifth grade—it will be possible to choose only the official language of one of the countries of the European Union or the European Economic Area, or a language regulated by intergovernmental agreements on education—none of which includes Russian.

During public discussion of the draft law, over a two-week period, more than 300 appeals were received from individuals and associations against the dropping of Russian, mainly because “children cannot be restricted from learning their native language” and they should decide for themselves which language they should learn. Opponents of the new rules also emphasized that abandoning the Russian language for political reasons is unacceptable.

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