Latvian school accused of ‘preaching’ to students


Eastern Europe


Students at the Ogres Centra pamatskolas. Photo Ogres Centra pamatskolas

In Latvia, there has been discontent about the primary school in Ogre. The school board is accused of subjecting its students to 'preaching.' The principal denies any allegations.

On Twitter, a father of one of the students complained that the pupils had been made to listen to the speeches of pastors and were given leaflets about the Christian faith, the Latvian public broadcasterEng.lsm.lv reports. He did so after the school organised a panel discussion to teach 7th-grade pupils about religion.


The school says that this was not a sermon but part of an educational project that aimed at teaching students how to debate various socially essential issues. Dace Bondare, principal of the Ogre central elementary school, says that young people ask questions and that the school is an environment where they should be able to find answers. "This discussion was really like that, where young people ask questions – how did the world come to be, Who is this God, and where did He come to be?"

Critical parents, however, point out that only Lutheran, Catholic and Baptist priests and pastors were invited to speak in the panel discussion as 'experts'. They argue that this influences the panel's objectivity and reduces the chance of secular or other religious beliefs getting equal weight in the discussion, the broadcaster writes.

Furthermore, the parents dislike the fact that the teachers gave the children leaflets which spoke about sin, the Day of Judgment and other topics.


The head of the Ogre District Education Department, Igors Grigojevs, says to take the criticism seriously, even though they see the overall format of the religious education as successful. "Firstly, it is important that there is also a person with a different or opposite opinion on the state. And secondly, there should be no promotional materials distributed", he says.

The school announces that the panel discussions will be continued but promises to include representatives of other opinions next time. It also states that it will look more critically at the leaflets that are distributed and that it will inform parents in advance about the topics of the panel discussion.

The State Service for Education Quality has asked the school to explain the events.



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