The Lithuanian Parliament is about to conclude work on a new law on education which will put at risk the existence of minority schools. According to this draft law, in schools with education in minority languages certain subjects are to be taught in Lithuanian. The draft law limits the possibilities of learning in the national language of the minorities; inter alia, it foresees that minority languages are to be taught only in elementary schools and only for the first four years of schooling. Subsequently, the number of subjects taught in Lithuanian is to gradually increase.
The new law grants a higher status to Lithuanian schools than to minority schools. In practice, this would mean that the 40 or so Polish schools with over 5 000 students would soon be reduced to just a few. The policy of the Lithuanian authorities goes against Articles 8, 9 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the terms of the Polish-Lithuanian Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation between Neighbours, according to which the parties are obliged to provide possibilities of education in the language of the minorities at pre-school, elementary and high school level.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe expresses its concern about some of the changes to the law on education foreseen by the Lithuanian authorities, which limit the access of minorities to education. The Assembly appeals to the Parliament of the Lithuanian Republic to refrain from making these changes.