The Daugava school is a Latvian language community school for children from pre-school to Year 8. It is a branch of the Melbourne Latvian Society Inc.
The School was established in 1950 by Latvian refugees who arrived in Melbourne from Europe after the Second World War. The School occupies two adjacent premises in Elwood overseen by the Latvian Cooperative Society. Latvian House was established by the whole Latvian community and the school building was purchased as a result of funds raised by the primary and secondary school communities. The school is managed and staffed by volunteers.
The School is an integral part of the local Latvian community. The School calendar includes celebrations of culturally and historically significant occasions. School students are often invited to perform at functions organised by other Latvian community groups. Through these public events the School is a visible, active part of the local Latvian community.
The Daugava school enjoys a close relationship with the Melbourne Latvian secondary school, with which it shares the premises. Both schools cooperatively organise annual functions and most graduates of the junior school go on to attend the senior school.
The school has links with a global network of Latvian schools and has access to educational resources and professional development opportunities that are offered to schools by both the Latvian government and the World Federation of Free Latvians.
The main purpose of the School is to provide educational opportunities for children so that they may:
- develop or improve their written and oral Latvian language proficiency
- learn about their Latvian heritage including Latvian history, geography, culture and folklore
- develop their sense of Latvian identity and belonging in a global Latvian community and a sense of pride and love for Latvian language and culture.
Further information is available on our website.
Melbourne Latvian High School
Melbourne Latvian High School [MLV] has operated at the Latvian Community Centre in Dickens St and Brighton Rd, St Kilda for over 45 years. Supported by of the Australian government, the school was founded on 12th February 1972. The high school level Latvian language course began on University High premises; with the aim to learn or to improve one’s Latvian language skills. The first leaders of the school were Erasts Ziemelis, followed by Leo Beinerts. Later lessons continued at the Melbourne Latvian House. MLV was officially named a school within the state of Victoria with the option to learn Advanced Latvian, and Elementary Latvian – for beginners or those with weaker language skills. In 1975 Latvian was included as a matriculation subject (Higher School Certificate) which gave school-leavers the opportunity to continue on to university level.
In 2005 the number of high school students taking Latvian as a subject had fallen and as a result Latvian was no longer listed as a VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education) subject. After a year’s break (regular classes were cancelled) in 2007 school principal on Kārlis Brēmanis’ initiative the school resumed lessons – teaching Latvian language, history, singing and handicrafts to three age levels. Language classes for adults also resumed. For the past 10 years school students have also been able to take part in tours organised by the American Latvian Association – “Sveika, Latvija!” tours. Teenagers who attend either Latvian high school or the Summer high school “Dzintari” and live in either the USA, Canada or Australia are eligible. Latvian organizations in Australia help contribute to the Australian-Latvians’ travel expenses.
MLV took part – and won a prize – in a Daugavas vanagi competition, by making a game about the regaining of Latvia’s independence. The school students also took part in a short film competition organized by the 55th Sydney Latvian Culture Festival. A number of former MLV students now live and work in Latvia in reputable professions. A number of former students have been actively involved in the Latvian community in Australia.
Anna Ziedare took on the principal’s role in 1973. Her remarkable contribution has helped shape MLV and she continued to be influential for many years. In 1981 Kārlis Brēmanis, who had been assistant principal for many years, took over leadership and continued to lead the school for the next 34 years until he was succeeded by Bite and Andris Švolmanis.
The aims of MLV are to improve the Latvian language skills of the pupils, extend their knowledge of Latvian history in classes that are both interesting and pleasant, as well as to facilitate friendships and future active participation in the Latvian community.
MLV operates on Saturdays during school term between 10.30 and 13.30. Classes operate parallel to the Australian school levels of Years 9, 10 and 11. Latvian language and history classes are generally presented in an informal format, with singing – another regular activity – also offered to students. Occasional excursions and activities such as cooking and craft are also offered during the school year. The students also write and prepare a play that they perform at the annual school concert.
MLV also provides evening weekday classes for adults who have an interest in learning Latvian.
In 2022 MLV activity for Year 9, 10 and 11 students has been paused but there are plans to resume activity in the future. Classes for adults who have an interest in learning Latvian continue on weekday evenings and also have started on Saturday afternoons. For any information related to MLV activity and language classes, please contact Mara Rumpe firstname.lastname@example.org [0417 339 167]