Educational decisions in the Baltic countries are made within the context of a hybrid school population, for whom the State language is a compulsory subject. There are no strict regulations as to the amount of teaching to be carried out in the titular (or state) language in Lithuania's and Estonia's schools. In Latvia, an amended education law requesting a minimum of 60 percent of the teaching to be carried out in the state language was introduced for implementation at all public upper secondary schools as from September 2004. This reform has aroused discontent amongst its large Russophone population. Overall, attendance at (Russian) minority-medium language schools is much higher in Latvia compared to that in Lithuania or Estonia, where children from minority communities are increasingly opting for mainstream schooling. This points to perceived differences by parents in the value of the linguistic market for their offspring. This paper focuses on the interplay of forces in educational policy-making at the time surrounding the 2004 education reform in Latvia. We shall see how the process of the implementation of the reform was framed in different ways by the (Latvian and Russian) press at the macro level. A set of actors who were in control was firmly positioned in the foreground. The transmission of their values impacted on the polarised social groups (the Latvians and Russians), who were framed in the background. These groups, whose saliency increased with the clarity and frequency of group clues in the political discourse, were made chronically visible by the context. The picture that emerged highlighted the ongoing discrepancy in Latvia between language policy (as laid down by law) and actual beliefs, needs and practices.
|Translated title of the contribution
|At the interface of language ideology and practice: the public discourse surrounding the 2004 education reform in Latvia
|313 - 335
|Number of pages
|Published - Sept 2006