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Polish minority takes to the streets of Vilnius

PR dla Zagranicy
John Beauchamp 17.03.2012 18:30
Members of ethnic minorities in Lithuania, including Poles, descended on the capital, Vilnius, Saturday, to rally against plans to cut back on schooling for minorities.
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“The mother tongue is a guarantor of decent knowledge,” the protestors argued as they marched from the Lithuanian parliamentary buildings to demonstrate outside government headquarters.

Children and teachers from ethnic minorities in Lithuania went on the march, and were joined by trade unionists from the Lithuanian education sector.

The protest comes one year after Vilnius passed a bill on education for ethnic minorities in Lithuania, which has been criticised by Poles living there, with other sizable ethnic minorities from Belarus and Russia facing the same problems.

The new education bill envisages that from 2013, final exams in Lithuanian language and literature will be the same for Lithuanians as for members of ethnic minorities.

Currently, the Lithuanian curriculum for ‘native’ and ‘minority’ schools is different in terms of language use.

From 1 September 2011 ethnic minority schools have had to use Lithuanian for the teaching of some geography and history for classes pertaining to the country, while “the basics for patriotic upbringing” is fully taught in Lithuanian.

Meanwhile, Lithuanian authorities are condemning the protest. Education minister Gintaras Steponavicius told the BNS agency that politicians are “amassing political gain at the cost of teachers and children.” (jb)

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