3.1.2. Civic Education The task of civic education is to promote individual responsibility for national development, as well as to teach every individual civic participation skills, knowledge, attitudes and values. It is a way of strengthening national and civic identity and an understanding about Latvian society’s body of values.
Civic education issues are included in Latvia’s general school programmes within various social science subjects however, the achievements of Latvia’s schoolchildren in civic education are lower than other EU State indicators, and have become even worse in the past decade. As a result, Latvia’s young people stand out against Baltic, as well as other European nations with their poorer knowledge about the civil society system and principles, as well as about civic participation and the skill of mutual collaboration;12 it is expressed in negative attitude against the State. Overall, in schools with Latvian as the language of instruction civic education results are higher than in schools where the national minority educational programmes are implemented. This is evidence of a greater estrangement from the State in the national minority schools. Latvian and national minority schoolchildren have different views about their connection with Latvia and Latvian citizenship. For young Latvians identification with the nation and State are not mutually exclusive categories. On the other hand young people of national minorities separate the State from the place of their birth; the view becomes consolidated within them, that identification with the State threatens their ethnic identity.13 The State has to support the civic education that would reduce the development of such contradictory views. The bilingual education system and the compulsory 60% teaching of subjects in the official language at the national minority secondary schools have improved the knowledge of the Latvian language among young people. However, it can also be deduced from the research that the linguistic difference in Latvian schools and in national minority schools with Russian language as the language of instruction reproduces the segregation, estrangement and inter-group prejudices.14
The civic education results in Latvian schools are influenced by at least three differing factors: the direct teaching process in lessons, extra-curricular activities (including schoolchildren local government and participation in various projects) and the school’s overall civil culture.15 The schoolchildren’ civic attitude and intense civic activity is, to a large degree, determined not so much by the content of the teaching subject itself, as the prevailing atmosphere in the school which depends on the director and teachers’ style of work and the openness of the school.16 The task of the integration policy is to support the development of a democratic and open education system that would encourage children’s and young people’s self-initiative and collaboration skills and that would increase civic participation skills and a feeling of responsibility for what is happening in the country. The operation of young people’s NGOs should be particularly supported, as it strengthens democratic participation practices.17 The civic and organizational activities of young Latvians living abroad should be encouraged, both abroad, as well as when they are collaborating with young people living in Latvia. The obtaining of civic education by all age groups in Latvia should also be ensured and promoted.