"We can only say that we have never supported, do not support and will never support the events held in the exclusive format of the CIS and the Baltic countries. Our students did not leave for the chemistry olympics held in the CIS-Baltic format, they also did not attend a few other events. However, schools make independent decisions, for instance, we said we are not sending a team to one olympics but one student from Visaginas still went," Pavalkis told journalists at the parliament on Thursday.
"We give our schools freedom but they lack responsibility," he added.
Pavalkis said the ministry had received no information about the participation of students of Vilnius Sofijos Kovalevskajos Secondary School in paramilitary camps in Russia. After receiving the information, the ministry opened an investigation, but it does not have any actual instruments to do something.
"The teacher who took the students is a citizen of Lithuania, a third-generation Lithuanian, he speaks fluent Lithuanian. The ministry cannot specify the reasons behind his move. The school is acting at its discretion," he added.
"We cannot do anything although the ministry is officially responsible for the quality [of teaching], the supervision of schools but we do not have instruments to punish, control or do anything. Therefore, we are saying about the need to have a school supervision institution that would have the administrative capacities to punish, control and say something. However, checking the destinations of students during holidays will not be possible in the future either," Pavalkis told journalists.
He emphasized that the ministry has raised funding for patriotic education in schools across the country – over 1 million litas (EUR 289,900) has been planned, a defence teaching model has been introduced.
The minister said he does not plan to summon the principal of Sofijos Kovalevskajos School for an explanation of the trips to the Russian camps.
"What can I tell them? The ministry is not their employer, the municipality is. I have turned to [Vilnius City Mayor Artūras] Zuokas, he is responsible for hiring school principals. The ministry can give its opinion, however, the municipality will not necessarily respond," said Pavalkis.
On the other hand, he stressed that tensions should not be escalated on the matter, so that "people of Russian nationality who are loyal to Lithuania are not pushed into the embrace of anti-Lithuanian forces."
Members of the conservative Homeland Union have announced their plans to turn to prosecutors over inclusion of underage persons into criminal and anti-state activities.
15min.lt news portal has reported that students of the Vilnius school have been taken to paramilitary camps in Russia on a regular basis. One of the objectives of the camp is to select and educate future fighters of the Kremlin.
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