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Latvian schoolchildren singing their protest

Juri Rescheto
May 2, 2024

When Emilija Dorne sings the Latvian anthem with thousands of other schoolchildren, her future is at stake. Pupils across the country are protesting against the government's reform plans to close schools in smaller towns.


All over Latvia, pupils sing in protest against a school reform planned by the government. In the 1990s, Latvians demonstrated for their independence from the Soviet Union through protest singing – and were successful. Will they be this time too?  

Emilja Dorne is in ninth grade in the town of Engure. She's due to go to high school next year. But if the reform comes into effect, the 15-year-old will have to attend another school. She fears: “If I can't go to school here anymore, I'll have to travel far to be able to continue my education. This school is much closer for me.”  

The idea is to make school education more efficient. Less is more, according to the government. The schools that remain are to be better equipped, both financially and in terms of staff.   

The Ministry of Education points to the decline in Latvian schoolchildrens' performance. The reform is meant to solve the quality problem. Education minister Anda Caska defends the reform:  

“If we don't change anything today, it will be very difficult for our children to integrate into the labor market down the line.”  

For the time being, Emilja is not thinking about the labor market – and is happy to be able to continue with her singing classes. 

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Juri Rescheto DW Riga Bureau Chief