Most of Latvian residents support the necessity of reforms in Latvia’s education system. Most residents (43%) are saying that reforms are necessary, but not the kind currently offered by the Education Ministry.
Only a small part of respondents (16%) expressed support of the proposed reforms, saying that they are appropriate. 10% of respondents believe there is no need for reforms. A relatively large proportion of residents (31%) have no opinion on this matter, DNB Latvia barometer data states.
When asked to name which of the recently announced changes to the education system they support, residents mentioned the proposition to guarantee availability of kindergarten spots (65%) and the adoption of free study materials in schools (64%). Also, more than half of respondents support the reduction of the number of officials in the Education and Science apparatus (53%). Latvian residents also support the calculation of a teacher’s salary in accordance with his qualification (47%), the introduction of small school development programs (43%), as well as studying foreign languages starting from 1st grade (42%). Other reform initiative popularity among residents is much lower.
When commenting this data, Education and Science Minister Roberts Kilis had this to say: «This research reveals that there is a clear controversy – reform proposals that were compiled separately received notable public support. The ministry’s reform proposals, on the other hand, are not too popular, supported by only 16% of residents. This controversy shows that society does not have a clear understanding about the government’s reform initiatives. We can conclude the following from the research: if society understood the reforms, there would be more support, because most of those proposals are popular at their core – they will make people’s lives easier and offer new opportunities.»
When asked how the education system should change, respondents said that the State budget should divert more money for education (52%). 40% of respondents believe that bureaucracy needs to be reduced, while 38% of respondents believe that we need to stop reforming our country’s education system every now and again. One fifth of respondents admit that the initiated reforms should be finished.
When evaluating separate education level quality on a scale of one to five, residents give the highest score to the quality of education provided by schools of general education (average score of 3.50). Higher education institutions are rated somewhat lower (3.44), as well as vocational/professional technical schools (3.40). Compared with 2010 results, general education schools received better praise, as well as vocational and professional technical education institutions.
Respondents mentioned the deterioration of the quality of education twice as often (29%), instead of improvements (14%). 37% of respondents believe that the quality of education in Latvia neither deteriorate nor got better in the last year.
According to experts, residents have been evaluating the quality of certain education levels more and more responsibly in the last few years. DNB Bank economic expert Peteris Strautins notes that this shows a paradox in the residents’ way of thinking: people’s evaluation of wide public processes is instinctively negative, while that which is private and personally known is accepted much more positively.
12% of respondents believe Latvia is on the 100th place in terms of education quality in the world, 9% said that Latvia is on the 50th place. Meanwhile, the average position residents believe Latvia to be – is 78. It should be said though, that, according to the 2011 data from the Legatum independent organization, Latvia is on the 32nd place among 110 countries. However, only 16% of respondents assumed Latvia is on the 32nd place.