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Education

Lessons of religions

According to the article 6.3 of the Law of Religious Organisations, religions lessons or, more correctly Christian lessons, are presented in state and municipality schools by Evangelic Lutheran, (...)

According to the article 6.3 of the Law of Religious Organisations, religions lessons or, more correctly Christian lessons, are presented in state and municipality schools by Evangelic Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Old-believer, and Baptist teachers who are appropriately certified. The concept of the Christian religious instruction does not include and cannot include the Jewish faith nor Islam. Standard of the subject of religion is formed as an interconfessional subject. However, the history of culture (such a subject is the only one in Europe) also includes topics about all the religions of the world, giving students an opportunity to discover the contexts of different religions. Familiarisation with the religions is also achieved in the lessons of religion (elective subject).
According to the paragraph 14 of the agreements between the Latvian government, the Methodist Church as well as the Seventh Day Adventist Church of Latvia, has the right to teach religious lessons in line with the regulatory enactments of the Republic of Latvia according to a curriculum jointly approved by the Ministry of Education and Science and the Evangelic Lutheran Church of Latvia. Because of the lack of appropriate legislation, in real life Methodist and Adventist cannot be taught Christian lessons.

For further information see the article "Religion in public education: Latvian experience" of Ringolds Balodis in Gerhard Robbers (Hrsg.), Religion in Public Education – La religion dans l’éducation publique, European Consortium for Church and State Research, Trier, 2011, 273-294.

D 27 September 2012    ARingolds Balodis

Religion as subject are not compulsory

Under article 6 of the Law of Religious Organisations in state and municipal schools, Christian religion may be taught to persons who have expressed such a wish in a written application. (...)

Under article 6 of the Law of Religious Organisations in state and municipal schools, Christian religion may be taught to persons who have expressed such a wish in a written application. Applications by minors to be taught Christian religion shall be approved of by parents or guardians. If the minor is under 14 years of age, the minor’s parents or guardians submit the application.
Religion as a subject and other non-traditional religion subjects, such as Judaism, are not compulsory in Latvia. Each school may offer these subjects as electives. The standard in these subjects is formed through the coordination with the Ministry of Science and Education. From September 1, 2004, either ethics or religion will be offered as compulsory subjects to grades 1-3, where the parents of pupils have to choose one of the subjects mentioned beforehand. Ethics is offered as an alternative to the religious instruction.
Christian religion, in accordance with the curriculum approved by the Ministry of Education and Science, may be taught by teachers of Evangelic Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Old Believers or Baptist denominations, if no less than 10 students of the same school have expressed their wish to study the religious teaching of the relevant denomination. The teachers shall be selected by the denomination’s leaders and shall be approved by the Ministry of Education and Science. Since 1998, the Law is supplemented by part 5 of the article 6, which provides that religious teaching and ethics classes are financed from the state budget. In 1998, the Government provided funds for this education, 100,000 Ls (i.e. 210,000 USD). Students in state-supported national minority schools also may receive education on the religion "characteristic of the national minority" on a voluntary basis. Other denominations may provide religious education in private schools only.
The contents of the education is regulated by the Law of Education, adopted in 1998.

D 27 September 2012    ARingolds Balodis

The professional qualification in religious education

Although the Catholics, Baptist, Orthodox and Lutherans Churches have their own highest educational establishments and seminars, they are not state accredited and their diplomas are not (...)

Although the Catholics, Baptist, Orthodox and Lutherans Churches have their own highest educational establishments and seminars, they are not state accredited and their diplomas are not recognized by the state. Currently, there are Christian educational establishments of 7 religious communities (churches - 5 interdenominational and 2 Catholic), 12 private educational establishments (6 interdenominational, 5 Catholic) and one private educational establishment (the Habad Lubavich private secundary school). In Latvia, professional qualification in religious education can be acquired in seven high schools: Latvian University – Theological faculty, Latvian University – Pedagogical faculty, existing in one educational program, as well as Lutheran Academy, Institute of Religious Science of Riga, Theological Seminary of Congregation Union of Latvian Baptists, Theological Seminary of Synod of Orthodox Church, Latvian Christian Academy. The University of Latvia’s Theological faculty is nondenominational. The Faculty of Theology at the University of Latvia was established in 1920, however in 1940, in consequence of occupation by the Soviet Union, it was abolished. During the collapse of the Soviet regime in the end of the 80s the Faculty of Theology of the LU was renovated. Nowadays, the Faculty of Theology pursuant to the 1998 Faculty Regulations approved by the University Senate is a Christian-ecumenical, academic and research structural unit of the University of Latvia, educating theologians, religion researchers of academic education and professional teachers of religion and ethics, as well as specialists in ethical issues. The Faculty is not subordinate to any church, it cooperates with all the churches. Students and lecturers are from various denominations. There are rather specific consequences of such a non-denominational line: separation of the state and the church here manifests itself as separation of the theology and the Church. Tasks of the Faculty are reflecting the direction of theology more than the social needs, which really should be within the sphere of church activities under the classical model, instead of training of clergymen.
Although the governing body of the University of Latviahas declined in 1999 resumption of the denominational (church) course in the Faculty of Theology, according to the article 21 of the Concordat, Roman Catholic Church have taken promise from state: "The Reinstatement of the Faculty of Catholic Theology within the University of Latvia will be negotiated in the future between the Holy See and the Government of the Republic of Latvia."

D 27 September 2012    ARingolds Balodis

School and worship

The disposition of religious signs and symbols is up to the administration of each school. The same rule applies to Christian public schools, private schools and Jewish private schools. Prayers, (...)

The disposition of religious signs and symbols is up to the administration of each school. The same rule applies to Christian public schools, private schools and Jewish private schools. Prayers, which are the component of every religion, are one of the practical forms for instructing each student. Therefore, prayers are performed every morning in schools with religious specialization and during the holidays students are encouraged to visit a church of their choice.
The standard for each subject is coordinated with the Ministry of Science and Education, therefore free practice of religion is regulated by the national Law of education. There are eight private schools with religious specialization in the state – Lutheran, Jewish and Baptist. In accordance with the agreement between the Republic of Latvia and the Holy See (article 15), the teaching of the Catholic religion shall be conducted exclusively on the basis of a programme approved by the Bishops’ Conference of Latvia, in agreement with the Ministry of Education and Science, and shall be undertaken only by qualified teachers who possess a certificate of competence issued by the Bishops’ Conference of Latvia, the revocation of which signifying the immediate loss of the right to teach the Catholic religion.
According to the Law, everyone individual or group has the right to religious instruction in the educational establishments of religious organisations. In national minority schools supervised by the state or municipalities, if such is the wish of the students and their parents or guardians, it is allowed to teach the religion of a particular national minority in compliance with the procedure set by the Ministry of Education and Science. Thus for example, the Orthodox, whose religion is not mentioned in the Law of Religious Organisations, can ensure religious classes for their children.
Many denominations have developed a comprehensive system of Sunday schools. For example, the Baptist congregations in Latvia, with more than 6,200 members, have Sunday schools that are attended by approximately 5,000 children.
Religious education affairs are not separated from the common educational system of the Republic of Latvia, which is why this sphere is under supervision of the Ministry of Education and Science. Educational institutions for ecclesiastics can be mentioned as an exception, they are to be registered with the Board of Religious Affairs according to the Law of Religious Organisations. The Latvian Lutheran Church in 1998 established its own seminary - the Lutheran Academy in Riga. The Roman Catholic Church also has its own seminary. The Baptist and Orthodox seminaries are also registered by the Board of Religious Affairs.

D 27 September 2012    ARingolds Balodis

Catholics and education

In accordance with the agreement between the Republic of Latvia and the Holy See, article 9 (a): "With respect to the laws of the Republic of Latvia and in view of its legitimate pastoral (...)

In accordance with the agreement between the Republic of Latvia and the Holy See, article 9 (a): "With respect to the laws of the Republic of Latvia and in view of its legitimate pastoral undertakings, to the Catholic Church shall be guaranteed freedom of access to the media and freedom of speech, including the establishment of its own means of social communication and access to those of the State, in accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Latvia." According to the Concordat articles 16, 18 and 19 in conformity with the legislation of the Republic of Latvia, the Catholic Church has the right to found institutions of higher education for teachers of religion which will grant State recognised diplomas. The Catholic Church has the right to establish and manage schools at every level, in conformity with the laws of the Republic of Latvia and the norms of canon law. The foundation of Catholic schools shall be requested by the Bishops’ Conference of Latvia acting on behalf of the local ordinary. Catholic schools, as well as institutions of higher education, shall observe the laws of the Republic of Latvia concerning the general norms relating to the national curriculum, to their management and the granting of State recognised diplomas. Catholic Schools are entitled to financial support, in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Latvia. Teachers and other employees in officially recognised Catholic schools, as well as students and their parents, shall enjoy the same rights and have the same obligations as their counterparts in state and local government schools.

D 27 September 2012    ARingolds Balodis

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