A critical analysis of approaches to religious education in public schools of post -Soviet Latvia

Anta Filipsone, Fordham University


Today, ten years after the collapse of the totalitarian Communist regime in Latvia, systems of religious education in churches and public education in this country are only forming. However, the lack of analytical and constructive academic research, which would take into account such factors as the atheistic upbringing of population, the experience of persecutions of religious faiths as well as current political, economic and cultural problems in transitional societies, considerably impedes the process of decision-making in strategical matters and the development of effective pedagogical practice in religious education. This study specifically focuses on religious education in state-sponsored public schools in Latvia. Particularly, the debates on religious education that took place in Latvia in 1993–1999 are described and analyzed. Those debates resulted in the dismissal of the confessional approach to religious education in public schools and introduction of a descriptive overview of the basics of Christianity in the elementary school. Then the two alternative approaches to religious education which are currently operative in public primary and secondary schools in Latvia—the world religions approach and the Christian ethics approach—are described. These approaches are placed in a larger international context in order to elucidate their weaknesses as well as the potential for the future. Finally, on the basis of the local experience and recent international research on religious education in public schools, it is suggested that the most fruitful direction for the future research lies in enlarging the scope of public debates on religious education in public schools of Latvia. Such an enlarged and more integrated framework would allow the more efficient facilitation of continuous communication and possible cooperation among the representatives of the different models of pedagogical thought and practice which currently co-exist in Latvian religious education.

Subject Area

Religious education

Recommended Citation

Filipsone, Anta, "A critical analysis of approaches to religious education in public schools of post -Soviet Latvia" (2002). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3061345.