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Valiullina and Others v. Latvia Nos. 56928/19, 7306/20 and 11937/20, ECtHR, Fifth Section, 14 September 2023

Type Judgment
Case number 56928/19, 7306/20, 11937/20


Discrimination in the enjoyment of the right to education because of the increase of subjects to be taught in the national official language in public schools. Non-violation.

Normative references

Art. 2 P.1 ECHR
Art. 14 ECHR


1.         The right to education does not imply the right to receive an education in a language chosen by the parents. Therefore, a legislation that determines the language in which education should be given according to the principle of territoriality does not breach the rights guaranteed by Article 2 of the first additional Protocol to the ECHR.
2.         It does not violate the European Convention on Human Rights for legislative reform to increase, in state schools, the percentage of subjects to be taught in the only state language by reducing the use of other languages in teaching, where the difference in treatment of pupils belonging to a linguistic minority is justified by legitimate objectives and can be regarded as a proportionate means to the pursuit of those objectives.
(In the present case, according to the ECtHR, the disputed difference in treatment between Russian- and Latvian-speaking pupils is justified by the legitimate objectives of protecting and strengthening the country's official language, as a fundamental constitutional value of the State, as well as by the need to ensure the unity of the Latvian education system. The Court notes, in particular, the importance of the specific historical context of the illegal occupation and subsequent annexation of Latvia to the USSR, which significantly restricted the use of Latvian for more than fifty years, as well as the difficult choices made after the restoration of independence. For the Court, however, the legislative changes would have been implemented gradually and flexibly, with sufficient room for adaptation to the needs of the persons concerned).