Ethnic minority facilitations might be discriminatory, ombudsperson says
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Ethnic minority facilitations might be discriminatory, ombudsperson says
The decree on the facilitation of the Lithuanian language and literature exam for ethnic minority school graduates, signed by Minister of Education and Science Dainius Pavalkis on Wedneday, might contain “manifestation of discrimination”, Ausrine Burniekiene, equal opportunities ombudsperson, says.

Quote:“Formally, without getting into reasons why such a decision was made – whether to make reverence for ethnic minorities or it was made under some objective circumstances… If some circumstances are in fact justified, adequate and proportionate for that difference, then such a provision might as well stay. But formally at this moment, of course, we might see unequal treatment. And unequal treatment is called manifestation of discrimination,” Burniekiene told BNS on Thursday.

In her words, there have not been complains over the facilitated Lithuanian language exam, as yet, but if her office received such complaints, it would look into why such a decision was made.

“On the one hand, it would seem that some kids and other kids are treated differently. (…) We have not received such complaints from either side, i. e., neither from ethnic minorities nor Lithuanians over the Lithuanian language exam. But if we did, with no doubt, we would look into it as formally we can in fact see difference treatment of people since, in the end, the Lithuanian language is a state language in Lithuania and requirements should be equal,” the ombudsperson told BNS.

“Formally, that different treatment of foreign nationals living in Lithuania, Lithuanian citizens, and citizens of Lithuanian origin, it raises doubts, of course. In such a case, we should, if we did look into such a complaint, definitely ask for specialists and experts’ opinion, perhaps Lithuanianists, teachers as well. We should also ask for psychologists’ opinion too,” she said.

On Wednesday, Minister of Education and Science Dainius Pavalkis signed a decree on the facilitation of the Lithuanian language and literature exam for ethnic minority school graduates.

Some politicians and representatives of higher schools believe the facilitations made to representatives of ethnic minorities are significant and therefore it’s no longer possible to state that representatives of Lithuanian and non-Lithuanian schools take a unified exam.

Under the minister’s decree, this year, high-school graduates will write an essay based on works of seven authors. Previously, those taking the state exam were given three authors, and those taking the so-called school-level exam would be allowed to choose from four authors.

For ethnic minority students, the number of words in a state-exam essay would have to be at least 400 and at least 250 in a school-level-exam essay. For students of Lithuanian schools both numbers are 100 higher.

In the spring of 2011, the Seimas of Lithuania passed a new version of the Law on Education, which, among other things, stipulates a new teaching scheme of the Lithuanian language in ethnic minority schools, including teaching of more subjects in Lithuanian and unifying the tasks of the graduation exam of the Lithuanian language as of 2013. The changes sparked protests by the Polish minority.

Ethnic minority facilitations might be discriminatory, ombudsperson says
2013 Feb 25 19:46
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