Latvia wants unpatriotic teachers dismissed

Latvia's president has signed an education law allowing schools to dismiss teachers who are disloyal to the country and its constitution. The government hopes this will curb Russian influence in the country's Russian-language schools. Is Latvia making a laughing stock of itself or is this the right way to combat Russian propaganda?

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Neatkarīgā (LV) /

Russia will scoff at Latvia

The new education law will damage Latvia's reputation, Neatkarīgā rails:

“The call for loyalty is a great way of worsening our relations with Russia. Now the Russian propaganda machine can once again hurl accusations and make fun of us. Because no other European country makes such demands of its teachers. The closest country that demands loyalty is Azerbaijan. A lovely country, but one that has a very different understanding of freedom of opinion to that of the EU. Should we copy Azerbaijan's practices and laws? It's astonishing just how far the politicians are taking things. You could understand it if someone had insulted the education minister and he now wanted to take revenge. But the majority in parliament has gone along with the law, and even the president hasn't raised any objections.”

Latvijas Avīze (LV) /

A matter of national security

Unpatriotic teachers must be dismissed immediately, Latvijas avīze counters, defending the new law:

“We're not stupid. The textbooks from Russia that are used as additional materials in schools where children are taught in Russian are not appropriate for widening pupils' horizons. Using these books is a deliberate action carried out by people with a clear understanding of this false literature. We must say loudly and clearly: teachers who deliberately try to turn youths against the state have no right to work as teachers. The law under which disloyal teachers are dismissed is absolutely necessary. This is a matter of national security - unfortunately. But this is the reality in our country 26 years after it regained independence.”

Latvijas Avīze (LV) /

Schoolchildren must be trained to be patriots

It's unfortunate that such a law is apparently necessary to filter disloyal teachers from the education system, Latvijas avīze writes:

“People are wondering whether in fact the clock has been turned back to the days when only one opinion was right. And why must the teachers increasingly be the targets of the state's mistrust? Whatever happened to democratic principles? ... But it looks as if Latvia is in a dangerous situation: teachers with dubious reputations are working in our schools, while the police and Ministry of Education look on helplessly. Only these changes in the education law can save our school system and ensure that schoolchildren are brought up as patriots. But the legal quality of the law is questionable.”

Neatkarīgā (LV) /

A ridiculous law

How does the government expect to implement the law? Neatkarīgā scoffs:

“After a first reading of the changes to the law it's hard to say: should we jump for joy or burst into tears? It will be difficult to catch the school teachers and principals in breaches of loyalty. Because the Education Ministry's undaunted inspectors are hardly in a position to visit all of the schools and classes in which potentially disloyal teaching is taking place. ... Will they use drones? Or will the inspectors wait until someone like [Soviet youth hero] Pavlik Morozov calls and reports cases of disloyalty to the country, the party and the government? ... And is it really the teachers - whom the Education Ministry is rewarding with one reform after the next - who are most disloyal to our country?”