Latvian Education: Past and Present
Imagine a seven year old boy sitting in class. He is anxious for the day to begin and anticipates its end. Finally, his teacher starts to speak about what will be happening in class that day. The boy looks up in wonderment and confusion. His teacher is speaking in a completely different language than the boy is accustomed to. This little boy is growing up in Latvia, but the language he has grown up learning, in his home, is Russian. The boy, having always heard both languages while growing up, eventually pieced together what the teacher was saying; and later realizes he is going to have to adapt to a new language. This seems to be a common occurrence in Latvian schools. Because of Latvia’s history, back and forth, between Soviet and independent rule, a large population of Russians have migrated, or been moved to, Latvia. This has had a large impact on the way education works in Latvia. The Eastern Union (EU) has also, recently, started to make a difference in the way education works in Latvia.
After reading through a brief history of Latvia, in the World Book, I found that Latvia was first recognized as an independent state in 1920, even though it had claimed independence just after World War I ended in November of 1918. Two years after their claim, Latvia developed a democratic government which broke up wealthy estates and separated the land among the people. After the Great Depression, in 1936, the president took more power and gave less to the political parties. Shortly after World War II started the Soviets had an agreement with Latvia to build Russian military bases in their country. The Russians eventually seized power and made Latvia part of the Soviet Union and then created a Communist government.
Soon after that, in 1941, the German soldiers invaded Latvia and stayed there until 1944 when the Soviets recaptured it. While the Russians resided and ruled in Latvia they created a powerful Communist government which controlled all land and industry, was the only legal politician party, and banned the Latvian flag and national anthem.