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Table 19.

Average monthly gross income in the sector nation wide and in education

Years

Average monthly salary in lats (Ls)

Average monthly salary in education (Ls)

The difference(Ls)

1993

51.78

39.38

12.40

1994

77.39

54.32

23.07

1995

98.48

68.78

25.70

1996

105.63

75.21

30.42

1997

126.89

92.93

33.96

1998

142.91

107.87

35.04

 

Figure 5.

Source: Monthly bulletins of LR Central Statistics Bureau

As the Gross National Product increases each year, it is predicted that the relationship between it and the average teachers’ salary will be an increasingly negative one.

This situation points out the conflict that has arisen between the demands placed on teachers and reality. The large proportion of unqualified teachers does not allow for significant educational reform to take place.

Financing the teaching process

Funding for the teaching process comes from a variety of sources. Guaranteeing schools necessary textbooks and other educational materials was one of the main priorities after 1991.

Expenditures pertaining to educational materials

The procedures pertaining to textbook publication and distribution were changed in 1995, making possible the development of a free textbook market over the last few years.

The annual textbook subsidy that schools receive is not sufficient. It costs about 25 Ls to provide all necessary textbooks for one student for one year.

The production and distribution of all educational textbooks and other materials for special education programs is funded entirely by the national budget.

Keeping schools supplied with current educational resources has become problematic; facilities are forced to get by with outdated textbooks and materials because local governments do not have sufficient funding to keep the stocks current.

Teachers’ continuing education

Innovations and changes in course content and the need to guarantee the nation a quality education that meets today’s demands has made the question of continuing education for teachers a particularly significant one. It must be remembered that a certain number of working teachers do not have the required educational background required by the profession. Continuing education is funded by several sources including:

The national budget

Regional and local budgets

Various funds

Personal contributions

About 25% of working teachers are able to attend nationally funded continuing educational endeavours.

Expenditures pertaining to the maintenance of school buildings

Unlike other countries, Latvia spends more money from its education budget to cover regular maintenance and upkeep of school buildings. Factors contributing to this proportionally large expenditure are the cost of maintaining school buildings attended by very few students (this considerably raises the cost per child), the deterioration over time of existing buildings and the inefficient heating and cooling of school buildings. Ratio of operational expenses as a percent of total national education expenditures in 1995 was 99,1%.

During the time period from October 27, 1997 to January 5, 1998, a detailed study of the structural conditions at 1024 general education schools, professional training centres and teachers’ colleges was conducted by the government.

The goal of the study was to determine the urgency of repairs and remodelling, the implementation of energy saving procedures and the type and amount of classroom use.

About 15% of these schools were built prior to 1914. There were some characteristic differences between urban and rural schools in this group. The rural schools typically had poor sanitation, school buildings had no plumbing, furnaces were not adequate, there was no ventilation in the classrooms, water supply systems were very deteriorated or non-existent. The overall condition of the buildings has not improved in spite of some repairs over the years.

The condition of city schools was somewhat better. Heat, water and plumbing are all linked to a central system.

About 25% of the buildings were built prior to 1940. The technical and sanitation conditions in these schools are unsatisfactory, especially in rural schools, where roofs were in deplorable condition, the internal structural condition of the buildings was in catastrophic condition.

About 60% of the schools in the study were built after 1945. The overall condition of these buildings is satisfactory, but they are very energy inefficient. Heating costs could be decreased considerably by use of wall and ceiling insulating materials available today.

The amount of classroom use in general education facilities varies greatly from school to school. These indicators are about 25% higher in city schools than in rural facilities.

A considerable investment in Latvian education has been made by the International Reconstruction and World Bank Educational Reform Loan. Most of the funding has been invested in the reconstruction of existing school buildings and the payment of communal fees. More details available in the section "Investments in educational development".

The National Investment Program for 1995 – 2000, which was approved in 1994, provides for a gradual growth of investment in the development of the educational system. National investments in education are reviewed and approved annually (see Table 20., figure6.).

Table 20.

The National Investment Program (NIP) 1995 – 2000 in millions of Ls

Years

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

National budget funding for NIP*

13.800

14.300

23.300

42.300

50.500

40.626

Investments in the budget of Ministry of Education and Science

0.503

0.777

1.637

2.201

3.440

3.595

To include structural development at the Ministry of Education and Science

0.481

0.757

1.157

1.601

1.431

1.955

To include of information technology

0.022

0.020

0.480

0.600

2.009

2.000

Regional subsidy investments

0.000

0.315

0.500

1.974

1.136

0.925

Total investments

0.503

1.092

2.137

4.175

4.576

4.520

Investments in the budget of Ministry of Education and Science in percents

3.6

5.4

7.0

5.2

6.8

8.8

To include structural development at the Ministry of Education and Science in percents

3.5

5.3

5.0

3.8

2.8

4.8

To include of information technology in percents

0.2

0.1

2.1

1.4

4.0

4.9

Regional subsidy investments in percents

0.0

2.2

2.1

4.7

2.2

2.3

Total investments in percents

3.6

7.6

9.2

9.9

9.1

11.1

Figure 6.

Source: Board of the National Statistics Commission 1997, Quarterly Bulletin #2, 1998.

16.3. The World Bank Educational Loan

In 1999 Latvia was awarded a World Bank Educational Loan in the amount of 28.3 EUR ($31.1 million), to be repaid in 15 years. It is hoped to realize the educational reform project within 5 years, by 2004.

Total funding for the project is $39.9 million with the following breakdown:

World Bank Loan - $31.1 million (78%)

Regional investment - $6.0 million (15%)

Special donations - $0.2 million (0.5%)

It is planned to use the loan to optimize the condition of school buildings, install energy efficient heating and cooling systems, to take care of urgent repairs and renovations, to work out a National Educational Standard and to improve the structure of the board of education.

The largest amount of funding, 81%, will be spent to replace roofs, to caulk windows and doors, renew heating systems and electric wiring systems.

16% of the monies will be spent on raising the level of quality of education in Latvia. Educators are being asked to develop new standards and requirements for all subjects, a new system of evaluating student progress and achievement, a developmental strategy and to maximize the function of school boards.

2% of the funding will be spent to improve the administrative aspect of the work of the board of education.

16.4. The Latvian Information-in-Education Project (LIIS)

One of the most significant projects in the modernization of education in Latvia is the Latvian Information-in-Education Project started in 1997. The project has laid the foundation for effective and widespread introduction of information technology into the educational process in 1999 and beyond at the classroom, administrative and service levels. A national system of information technology is being developed, which will include computers, programming technology, computer networks, the Internet etc.

Project phases

1997: Phase I, which involved the production of information technology equipment and the introduction of this equipment into the programs at selected pilot schools;

1998: Phase II, which involved the establishment of 39 regional project centres, training of education professionals and the development of a consulting system; this stage also involved the further approbation of educational and administrative information technology;

1999: Phase III, which involves information technology placement in schools, regional project centres, school administrations, universities and colleges as well as the development of a system of instruction and the training of teachers and other educational personnel. Installation, maintenance and consultations pertaining to information technology equipment.

Phase IV: The phase of completion scheduled for late 1999 will be reduced by 20%. The project has yet to receive $1.5 million of the promised funding, thus slowing down the completion phase.

2000 – 2004: Phase V, which is projected to be the total outfitting of the entire educational system in Latvia with up-to-date information technology.

All teachers will receive basic training and instruction in information technology; to date about 2% of teachers in Latvia have been trained as part of the information in education project.

Available financing and "Education for All" objectives

It was necessary to begin educational reforms as soon as Latvia had regained its independence, thus it was impossible to guarantee the necessary financing for these reforms.

Not only is the lack of funding problematic, the use of available finances is troubling as well. For example, the high cost of building maintenance prohibited investments in development and reform of the educational system. This, of course, affects the quality of education as well.

It is important to note that private individual investments in education have increased since 1991, as have local and regional contributions.

17. ACQUIRING SPECIALIZED SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE

The countless radical changes in our system of government, transition to a democratic, open society and transition to a market economy have resulted in the need for new skills and information. These reforms affect everyone from the youngest Basic school student to highly specialized experts.

Due to the large number of educational programs in Latvia, at this writing it was impossible to compile information from all private schools and institutes and all community education and retraining programs.

Children can acquire these specialized skills and information through the general education program as well as special courses in specific topics offered by various community and business groups in the schools.

New subjects in basic education and the community’s role in teaching them

Health education

Health is taught as a separate subject only in grade 5. In other grades health information tends to be integrated into other topics of study. Many schools offer health as an optional course. In light of the fact that the health of children and teens has deteriorated over the past years, and in view of the fact that use of alcohol and drugs is on the rise, it would seem that information about healthy life styles and habits is particularly important.

Health Oriented Schools are to be commended for the job they have done in popularizing health education. These schools are part of the European Health Oriented School Project. In 1992, 10 such schools were established in Latvia, today there are 38. Many of these schools run annual summer camps and, in conjunction with community organizations, offer seminars and other programs at other schools.

Several community groups have taken the lead in informing students about good health habits and healthy lifestyles, among them the National Health Promotion Centre, The AIDS Centre, the Family Centre, the Community Health Centre, the "Papardes zieds" Association, a family planning group, the Latvia University Ecological Centre, the Emergency Medicine Centre; many of these centre have established special youth affiliates. Various youth organizations have taken an active part in educating our young, among them the Latvian Youth Red Cross and Students against Drugs and Alcohol. Latvia’s many pedagogic colleges have contributed to this effort as well.

In the 1997/98 academic year Latvia participated in an international study regarding student health habits (HBSC).

Environmental studies

Environmental studies in Latvia take the form of supplementary studies in various courses, rather than a separate course. Various community groups have become actively involved in environmental education: The Children’s Environmental School, the Latvia University Ecological Centre, the Riga School of Natural Sciences, the Environmental Studies Association of Latvia and others.

Seminars about environmental themes and topics take place regularly at almost all schools. Environmental camps have increased in popularity; many schools include Environmental Days or Weeks as part of their program.

Latvian schools have participated in several international environmental projects. 200 schools took part in the international project "Air pollution in Europe", overseen by the Latvia University Ecological Centre, 100 schools took part in the "Resources and Energy in our Schools" project, work has started on the "Shoreline Observation" project.

Civics on the Basic school level

Since the 1995/96 academic year, civics is a mandatory subject in the basic program.

The Democratic Development Centre an a project called "The Citizen", which involved civics teachers as well as basic school homeroom teachers. The purpose of the project was to make students aware of social situations and problems in their community, to familiarize students with the law-making process and how they can become a meaningful part of this process.

The role of non-government community organizations in the educational process

Non-government community organizations have become very actively involved in the educational process in Latvia. According to statistics from the Latvia Business Registry, of the 997 non-government organizations registered in Riga, 38% are involved in educational concerns, with the main emphasis being on:

-Adult education

-Professional education

-Minority education, retaining minority identity

-Social integration studies for non-Latvians

-Alternative methods in children’s education

-Consolidation and unification of educational efforts

-Various aspects of youth education

Accomplishments of non-government community organizations in the education of the youth of Latvia

The Non-government Community Organization Centre in Riga and the various Regional Support Centres have played a very active role in youth education, offering various seminars and lecture series on the following topics:

-The basics of democracy and the role of non-government

community organizations in society

-Strategic planning

-Fund raising and project production

-Teamwork and problem/conflict resolution

-Forming social relationships

At the end of each seminar, the participants are asked to evaluate the work being done by the organization. Regional activity in this regard is successfully increasing.

Many community organizations are involved in joint projects with the Non-government Community Organization Centre, various regional governments, government institutions. For example, The Nature Research and Environmental Education Centre, with funding from the Soros Fund – Latvia, is working on a project called the "Daugavpils Regional Educational Developmental Strategies".

Speciality studies for children and youth

Speciality studies have been a traditional part of the educational system in Latvia, whereby children and young people can pursue studies in an area of interest in addition to participating in the general education program. These speciality studies are free of charge.

The Youth Speciality Studies Division and The Sports Board of the Ministry of Science and Education establish the aims and funding guidelines for speciality studies programs

The analysis of speciality studies curricula, methodological coordination, continuing education of speciality instructors and national projects and competitions are the responsibility of:

-The National Youth Initiative Centre (scientific and technical projects, art projects, social activities)

-The Friends of Nature Centre "Saulesdarzs" (environmental education)

-Latvian Youth Sports Centre(physical education)

Speciality studies programs and projects are realized by national and regional governments, private speciality studies facilities, children’s and youth centres, children’s and youth environmental studies centres, children’s and youth athletic facilities, music and art speciality schools. Their purpose is to maximize each child’s potential in emotional and physical developmental, to promote the development of a well-rounded personality creating a wide range of vocational choices.

The United Nations Convention on Children’s Rights, the Children’s Rights Protection Law, The Education Law and the December 7, 1998 decree #659 of the Ministry of Science and Education pertaining to "The confirmation of children’s and youth speciality studies statutes" all serve to guarantee a successful program of speciality studies for the children and youth of Latvia.

During the 1998/99 academic year there were 127 speciality studies facilities in Latvia, including 61 sports schools with an enrollment of 42,073 and 66 other speciality studies schools with an enrollment of 83,370.

Available speciality studies programs

Based on existing demand, children’s and youth speciality studies centres offered the following programs during the 1998/99 academic year: folk dancing, various sporting activities, sport dancing, drawing and painting, computer studies, pottery, folklore, sewing, flower arranging, Latvian as a second language, modern dance, stamp collecting, technical construction, model airplanes, BMX, radio telegraphy, photography and film, orienteering, amber processing, theatre and others. Children’s and youth environmental studies centres offer regional studies clubs, friends of nature clubs, ecology clubs and young farmers clubs.

During the 1998/99 academic year, speciality sports schools offered 42 different types of sports.

To assure all children the opportunity to participate in the clubs of their choice, membership fees are waived for families with special hardships; there is a nominal fee for joining any club. Speciality studies are guaranteed for children in the rural communities as well, but the number of offered courses is not as extensive.

18. EDUCATION FOR BETTER LIFE

Adult education plays a very meaningful role in raising the level of education in

Latvia, in guaranteeing educational opportunities at any age and in assuring a high level of professional competence as a result, life in Latvia becomes more qualitative.

The Latvian Education Law states that adult education is a multi-dimensional, life long process that assures a quality education and the ability to effectively compete in the job market. These rights are guaranteed on a national and regional level, constantly developing new programs, modifying existing ones to raise the quality level of the educational system. (Latvian Education Law, 1991)

Adult education in Latvia

Upon reestablishment of Latvia as an independent country, almost one half of the population (31% with only an basic education, 21% with a high school education) admitted, that they had not been adequately educated in substance and skills to compete in today’s market economy. An immediate priority was to correct this situation by establishing a viable, quality adult education program in Latvia.

The main goal of adult education is to offer every person the opportunity to supplement his/her education according to his/her needs and interests, age and previous educational level noth with standing. Adult education also compensates for inadequacies in previous programs of study and those resulting from changing requirements in the job market; it helps resolve social adaptation and integration problems.

Adult education tends to change and develop according to the demands of regional social and economic development as well as the varying interests of residents, their needs and abilities.

In October 1993 a Division of Adult Education was established at the Ministry of Education and Science and until mid-1999 it coordinated the adult education programs in Latvia.

In December 1993 the Latvian Association of Adult Education was established. It was comprised of juridical and physical individuals who were actively involved in the field of adult education.

In compliance with Ministry Cabinet proposal #4, July 11, 1996, "Statutes of adult education centres", 27 Centres of Adult Education have been established in Latvia.

To assure people with opportunities to receive this necessary training and education, the adult education system offers these options of study:

-classroom instruction;

-correspondence courses;

-partial correspondence courses;

-self instruction.

In 1996 the Correspondence Education Board was established to promote this approach to education in Latvia. The establishment of the community organization, The Latvian Correspondence Education Centre, followed in 1997. Subsequently, regional centres have been established at several colleges throughout Latvia.

In order to raise the overall educational level of the population, to improve professional readiness and to improve the quality of life in Latvia, certain benefits are available to those combining work and study.

The Latvian Labour Law provides benefits for those individuals who work while continuing their education. Paragraph 191 states, that it is the responsibility of the employer to create conditions favourable for an employee to continue his education either at a vocational facility of an institution of education while continuing working. Paragraph 201 states, that an employer may award leaves of absence, with or without pay, as well as other benefits. A leave of absence of no less than 20 days must be awarded for the purpose of taking national exams or preparing various thesis projects; during this period, the individual can expect to receive the legal minimum wage.

The Welfare Ministry coordinates all education and retraining efforts of the unemployed in compliance with the law "About employability" and the statute of February 24, 1994 "About the professional education and retraining of the unemployed".

Sources of adult education?

According to statistics, in 1996 there were 215 facilities in Latvia offering adult education programs.

Adult education opportunities are available at: schools of general education, various colleges (adult programs run parallel to the regular program), music, art and sports schools, professional education facilities, consulting and information centres, libraries, museums and community centres.

Various businesses and institutions also have provided for continuing education opportunities for their employees in their bylaws.

Community organizations, churches and political parties offer certain educational opportunities for adults.

Other sources of adult education include various adult education support centres, regional Adult Education Centres, professional associations, career centres, television, radio, newspapers and the Internet.

Adult education programs

Adult education is the result of a cooperative relationship between demand based on interest and demand based on professional need. The number of available programs has been increasing yearly in an effort to keep up with the changing demands and requirements of the job market. In 1998, programs dealing with economics and business were the most requested. The largest number of adults enrolled in bookkeeping and business courses. The flexibility and constant growth of the adult education is responsible for the increasing number of adults taking advantage of the various opportunities.

The study of foreign languages has become increasingly popular, with a sizeable growth in "Latvian as a second language" courses. English classes have the largest number of students. Language and courses related to the economy were the most popular in 1996 and again in 1998. This trend is directly related to the skills and knowledge required in today’s job market; for example, English proficiency, computer skills, management ability, bookkeeping skills are in high demand.

Professional improvement programs are also often requested. Education has regained a certain popularity. New course offerings in adult education, proportionally increasing numbers of adult students, all testify to the tremendous improvements in the adult education program and its direct relationship to filling the needs of the job market.

Professional education and re-training programs for the unemployed

Professional education and re-training of the unemployed is coordinated and overseen by the National Unemployment Division of the Welfare Ministry.

The average unemployment rate in Latvia is about 7.2% (the number of unemployed among the economically active population). In 1996 education of the unemployed took place in 74 professions and specialities, by 1997 this number had grown to 104. In 1997 special attention was paid to courses increasing compliance to higher professional standards (welders, chefs, bookkeepers). Courses offering a wider range of basic training were very well received, since several trades could be mastered simultaneously (plasterer, bricklayer, tiler, baker). Supplemental business training was welcomed as well, since this gives any professional the opportunity to run his or her own business (hairdresser, roofer).

Family education guarantees

Multi-faceted family education promises to be a future priority. In 1997 The Family Education Iniciative was formed at the Ministry of Science and Education. The group consists of representatives from Latvian colleges, ministries and various non-government community groups. In 1998, a Ministry of Science and Education decree affirmed a Family Education Concept.

Language programs

The National Language Program was established to facilitate learning Latvian by immigrants and non-Latvians. The program functions with the support of the UNDP. Its main purpose is to develop specific programs and methodology for the effective learning of Latvian.

In response to demand, language courses are being offered at various educational facilities. According to statistics regarding educational increases in 1996, 9% of adult students have taken language courses. The two most popular language programs are English and Latvian as a second language.

Adult education student profile

We do not have precise information about the age and educational level of the adult education student. In 1998 a total of 201,910 people took part in adult education programs, the cost to the government was 11,206,276 Ls. The greatest number of adult education students are 18 – 40 years old. Courses are attended mostly by people with advanced degrees, motivated by potential mobility in the job market and people with high school degrees.

Development of adult education 1991 – 1999

A sizeable network of providers of adult education has developed in Latvia

The large number of people taking advantage of adult education opportunities testifies to the desire and interest of the population to educate it self, to raise its professional skill level.

The increasing number of Regional Adult Education Centres guarantees conveniently located classes.

A cooperative relationship has developed between institutions of higher education and adult education centres.

19. THE ROLE OF MASS MEDIA IN THE EDUCATION OF THE COMMUNITY

Latvia Radio and Latvia Television, both nationally owned, provide a series of nationally funded educational programs.

Latvia Radio has set the strengthening of education of children and teens as a priority along with social integration. To this end, there are several programs designed for young people promoting formation of positive values and creative involvement in the cultural process.

The youth oriented programming concerns itself with realization of values such as honesty, diligence, humanity, patriotism, love of country, history appreciation and respect for the Latvian language.

By the year 2000, Latvia Radio expects to augment its programming with more educational programs such as English and Latvian language courses, literary programs and theatres on the air.

Programs about the European Community are going to be aired:

"Keys to Europe",

"Hello, Europe",

"The world in Latvia – Latvia in the world",

the series "National Identity and Integration".

Historical programs, such as "Listen to the footsteps of history" and others, are popular among radio audiences.

The total time allotted for youth oriented programming is hour every morning from 10:30 – 11:00 am. Specific youth programming includes "Atbildam jums, kapecisi", "Stories for the child’s soul", "Sunday school". "Radioball", a program for teenagers, airs every evening from 7:00 – 8:00 pm.

Latvia Television also provides a series of nationally funded programs for children and youth with the intent to educate. These programs include "Skolas soma", presently the program most directly focused on educating, "The erudite", "Science in the 21st century", "Life", "The everyday soul".

Limited funding is one of the main obstacles to increasing educational programming; the amount allotted for it in the budget has remained unchanged for the past three years.

There is one press publication directly dealing with educational and cultural concerns in Latvia, the newspaper "Education and Culture", which offers a broad range of information dealing with education, problems with the educational system as well as current information and legislation from the Ministry of Science and Education. Funds for this publication are earmarked in the Ministry of Science and Education budget.

The magazine "The Teacher" is also funded in part by the Ministry of Education and Science ministry employees contribute articles and other materials.

"Basic Education" is a magazine designed for teachers and parents of Basic school children. The magazine contains current information about Basic education in general, methods, programs and teacher experience. The Ministry of Science and Education regularly contributes materials to this magazine.

Considerable attention is given to educational concerns in both the regional and national press. Special educational supplements regularly appear in "Lauku Avize" and "Rigas Balss".

The regional press is very actively involved in informing its readers about current developments in education and promoting a better quality of life. Almost every region has its own newspaper, some have more than one. These newspapers are very popular, their main goal is to inform and educate the community about a variety of topics.

Museums have become very actively involved in the education of the community, especially children and students. The Latvian Museum Board has published a list of educational offerings to schools. Museums are widely used as a source of hands-on, practical experience that is not available in textbooks. A program of museum pedagogy is developing in Latvia.

Libraries also play an important role in education, especially in the rural community, where the library assures the residents of the opportunity to read newly published literary works and periodical publications. Due to lack of funding, many rural libraries have been forced to close, it is impossible to purchase new books and periodicals. Lack of funding is also at the root of inadequate collections at many school libraries.

Increasing numbers of people, including Basic school aged children, are taking advantage of educational opportunities offered on the Internet. The government does not guarantee schools with computers, nor Internet hookups. In Riga there are computer classes in every school, the rural situation is quite different. There are schools, which have taken part in international projects such as I*EARN. The opportunities available at each school are directly related to the level of funding and interest of the local government in purchasing computer technology.

Along with the developments in democracy, the educational offerings of the mass media have increased both in number and breadth. The variety of options of how and where to attend classes has grown along with the number of choices available to students.

20. "EDUCATION FOR ALL" GOALS AND OBJECTIVES – EVALUATING THE ACHIEVEMENTS

In order to best evaluate the "Education for All" program, we must refer to the changes in the educational system as a whole during the time covered by the report.

Evaluating the reforms that have been initiated or completed during this period, the following positive changes can be observed:

Passing of legislation as well as successful development of normative and conceptual documents has been significant. This is covered in detail in the section "Major legislation and "Education for All" projects 1990 – 1999".

A World Bank Loan for the renovation and development of schools has been awarded to Latvia; these funds will allow for necessary structural repairs, which will lower operational costs and make more funding available for educational development.

Latvian schools are increasingly using information and communications technology to enhance the educational process; the number of schools offering computer classes has increased as has the number using the Internet. The "Information Technology in Education" project was started in 1997.

It has been more difficult to assure internal modernization within the educational system, to implement changes in content and the use of new methods, because these are processes that require time and the efforts of many individuals.

20.1. Major achievements in "Education for All" 1991 – 1999.

Achievements in the protection of children’s rights.

Achievements in the development of primary education

Achievements in basic education

Achievements in social and pedagogic correction 1991 – 1999

Achievements in the development of special education

Achievements in the evaluation of student progress

Achievements in adult education

20.2. Problems encountered in fulfilling "Education for All" goals and objectives

The time period covered by the report, 1991 – 1999, has not been one of regular and gradual educational development. Rather it has been a period of volatile and radical change in almost all areas of education in Latvia; these changes have often taken place simultaneously and within a short period of time. This called for intense and extensive efforts in legislation, development of curricula, development of a new system of educational administration and financing as well as the investment of considerable financial resources.

Along with the achievements, some problems, which developed in the early 1990s, still plague certain aspects of the "Education for All" program.

These include:

It must be noted that the financial situation in Latvia has been somewhat complex during this period. Educational reforms have been initiated and implemented without adequate financing. The shortage of financial resources in Latvia is the single largest deterrent to the qualitative development of educational programs, including "Education for All".

Along with the problem of inadequate funding, schools were forced to spend available monies on structural repairs and upkeep of schools with less-than-adequate enrollment, not having enough left to invest in the development of the educational system itself.

Latvia is a country of relatively low population density, resulting in fewer students per area and a lower student-per-teacher ratio. This calls for increased spending on education. The number of students per teacher is further decreased by the number of students attending schools where instruction is in a language other than Latvian, which again calls for increased spending per student and consequently, a larger percentage of the Gross National Product is spent on education.

Low teachers’ salaries have been a significant draw-back in attaining the goals and objectives of "Education for All". This salary structure along with the low social prestige of the teaching profession has resulted in countless educators entering other fields.

There is a severe shortage of qualified teachers at all levels. This has slowed the improvement of the quality of education as well as curricula reforms.

Certain projects, such as the accounting for school age children, have been especially difficult, because they call for not only adequate financing, but also for cooperation between departments and organizations and the establishment of an information base. Shortage of information pertaining to the structural conditions of individual schools, teacher qualification, the number of school age children in Latvia, for example, have delayed the effective use of financial resources and drafting of effective legislation.

In some cases, the distribution of resources and definition of priorities has all too often been the result of hasty political decision-making by the governing party.

Social changes characteristic of a society in transition were responsible for certain problems as well. Two such changes were social stratification and the inability of certain sectors of society to adapt to the newly emerging social and economic conditions.

There are considerable differences between rural and urban educational opportunities. Children living in the country or in small towns attend pre-school education programs less frequently. The inadequacies of rural education also are evidenced by the large number of children who are required to repeat the first grade.

"Education for All" projects were negatively affected by a certain duplicity not only on the part of the government, but also on the part of community organizations. This led to unnecessary spending and effort, often resulting in differing and conflicting conclusions, thus impeding agreement and cooperation.


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