Schooling in Latvia
In Latvia children usually start secondary education at the age of 6 or 7. That includes 9 compulsory and 3 optional years. There are options on getting both general education and professional training.
Parents often tend to send their offsprings to elementary schools closer to home; secondary schools, however, are chosen based on their reputation: arguably, only the large schools with a solid material base, experienced tutors and rich opportunities for study and sports are said to provide a high-quality modern education.
This year, a special attention was paid to the construction of modern sports facilities. Instead of the old-fashioned school gyms, a new football stadium (with a first-rate coating), as well as a street-ball court and rows of new simulators are set to arrive to schools in just a few months.
As for the curriculum changes, it is worth noting that the approach to social sciences and history is gradually changing in Latvia. Extra classes on these courses are opened to all students starting from year five. The fifth graders are supposed to spend seven to eight weeks per semester visiting architectural landmarks and museums. At the final stage of this process, they are asked to come up with their own individual or group projects.
In addition to compulsory subjects, there will be a choice for students to take up more natural sciences or humanities, the second foreign language or mathematics with programming. Together with their parents, students will be able to independently decide on a set of disciplines for their senior year. It is worth saying however, that at least three students should opt for a class in order to run it.
Furthermore, at the end of the school year, additionally to three mandatory exams (Latvian, foreign language and mathematics), graduates will also be expected to sit tests for three of their personally selected subjects.
The development of a talent support system in Latvia is currently under its way too: besides an academically inspiring youth, the focus has also been made on teachers.
This year, a hundred of Latvian educators will be able to receive additional professional training for free.
Salary rates for teachers have seen a rise over the past three years, while an average workload for one teacher has generally remained the same.
Moreover, recently Latvian schools have taken part in one of the most crucial global discourses about Internet safety and biased news.
What can be done in order to develop the habit to critically treat dubious sources among schoolchildren? Latvia says it has found a solution by implementing ‘media hygiene’ classes where students are taught to discharge what is said to be an ‘information clutter’.
Number of schools taught in «languages of national minorities» (including Russian) is gradually declining with a higher school education now being available only in state language. Latvians think this will help to solve the biggest problem society here faces years after restoring independence.