Because of the worsening demographic situation, Latvia will have to review the capacity of its education system, as concluded in the report of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development regarding Latvia’s education policy and practice compliance with OECD standards.
As noted by Andreas Schleicher, OECD Education and Skills Director, the number of schoolchildren in Latvia has declined more drastically than the number of teachers. It is also mentioned in the report that Latvia’s expenditures for education and financing for every student on all education levels are lower than those in other OECD countries. The main benefit from increasing efficiency will depend on the success of the recently launched reforms in general and higher education financing systems. Clear financial decisions should be made there. Schleicher also mentioned that larger amounts of money cannot guarantee better results.
According to him, compared with other OECD member states, teachers’ wages in Latvia are very small. OECD experts note that increasing teachers’ pay to a nationally competitive level would improve the situation in the personnel selection area. It will, however, force the formation of larger school classes in comparison with the number of teachers. Schleicher mentioned that not all countries wish to reduce the number of students in classes. Instead, countries consider ways of providing teachers more time to develop their skills. He noted that there is no proof to suggest teachers are happier teaching fewer students. Teachers’ satisfaction with their work grows if they have an opportunity to work together. In Latvia, on the other hand, cooperation among teachers is not too popular.
OECD recommends securing equal opportunities to study for all children. It is concluded in OECD’s report that education accomplishments of students in cities are higher than that of students in rural areas.
Also Latvia should improve its education information system and use data more strategically to make reforms a priority. It is noted that vocational and higher education has gained much from multiple significant studies, which served as a catalyst for reforms in the country’s education system. Such efforts should be carried out on other levels of the education system.
Schleicher emphasized the better sides of Latvia education system. He noted that Latvia has managed to reduce the number of school drop-outs over the years. In addition, the level of educational accomplishments of students has improved significantly. It is also concluded that the proportion of students with wean knowledge is small in Latvia.
As Education and Science Minister Karlis Sadurskis mentioned after the presentation of the report, education today will provide the future for the national economy and resident’s future quality of life.
The minister said that management of the flow of finances is not the main factor in the education system. It is more about ensuring that the money can help stimulate the quality of education. With that, a simple increase of funding will not give anything. «Increase of funding is the only argument I hear from opponents whenever the discussion topic turns to the teachers’ pay model,» – added Sadurskis. He admitted that complicated and painful reforms cannot be realized without sufficient investments. At the same time, investments should be properly planned and serve a specific purpose.