The role of the Polish minority schools in the inter-war period in education and preservation of the Polish language in multi-ethnic Latvia
Polish schools in Latvia played an important cultural, educational, patriotic and utilitarian role, which is why they deserve to be described. The scant literature on the problems of Polish schools in Latvia is complemented by numerous articles in the Polish press published in the former Polish Livonia in the inter-war period, including periodicals such as "Dzwon" (The Bell), "Nasz Głos" (Our Voice) or "Nasze Życie" (Our Life). Members of the Polish minority living in the former Polish Livonia could send their children to primary and secondary schools. In the new, better circumstances after the partition period, the possibility of freely cultivating one’s own national unique identity, also when it came to education, was an important element in the preservation of national consciousness, transmission of tradition and preparation for the next stage in the education process. Education institutions were founded on the basis of legislation adopted by the newly established Republic of Latvia. The first ten years were conducive to the founding of schools and to their development. Following the economic crisis of the early 1930s and Karlis Ulmanis’ later coup, schools were closed, teachers sacked and the Polish language was removed from mixed schools. Young Poles continued their education at universities in Poland, but also at the University of Riga, established in 1919 following the closure of the Riga Technical University. Education institutions, beginning with kindergarten, primary and secondary schools, were an effective tool in the fight for Polish identity, even considering the limitations and weaknesses that would emerge in their work.