19/05/2016 - Latvia has made good progress improving its education system since independence in 1991, but more efforts are now needed to raise teaching standards and ensure that all students have access to a quality education, according to a new OECD report.
Education in Latvia says that more children are starting school at a young age, younger than in many OECD countries, and most continue into tertiary education. Student performance has improved significantly since 2000: Latvian students were close to the performance of many of their peers in OECD countries and a smaller share of students lacked basic skills in the 2012 OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).
“It is remarkable how Latvia has managed to improve its student performance considering the socio-economic challenges of the past two decades,” said Andreas Schleicher, OECD Director for Education and Skills, presenting the report in Riga with Minister of Education and Science, Kārlis Šadurskis. “Sustaining this progress will be central to realising Latvia’s ambitions in education and for society as a whole. It requires a stronger focus on equity, establishing the conditions for a high-quality education profession and continuing the reforms of vocational and tertiary education.”
Giving equal access to a quality education from the youngest age must be a priority, according to the report. In the PISA 2012 test, urban students outperformed rural students by the equivalent of more than a year of schooling – half a year more than the average in OECD countries. Reviewing governance and funding arrangements for early childhood education and care, a more systematic approach to the development of teachers and school leaders and more targeted efforts are needed to support students in rural areas.
Latvia’s public expenditure on education and per-student funding at all levels are lower than many OECD countries. Long-term efficiency gains will depend on the success of recent reforms in school and tertiary education funding and will require making clear spending choices.
Raising teacher salaries to nationally comparable levels will improve recruitment but will necessitate bigger class sizes and higher student teacher ratios. The demographic decline will require Latvia to revisit the education system’s capacity, including numbers of schools and tertiary education institutions, and staffing levels.
Latvia should make the improvement of its education information system and the strategic use of research to inform its reform agenda into a priority, says the report. Vocational education and tertiary education have benefited greatly in recent years from a series of important research reports that have acted as a catalyst for education reforms. Such efforts should be expanded to other levels of education. In schools, strengthening self-evaluation and teacher appraisal would help.
For further information on Reviews of National Policies for Education: Education in Latvia, journalists should contact the OECD Media Office (+ 33 1 45 24 97 00).
Note to editors:
OECD countries agreed on 12 May 2016 to invite Latvia to become a member of the Organisation. During nearly three years of accession discussions, Latvia has been reviewed by 21 OECD Committees on two fronts: an evaluation of Latvia’s willingness and ability to implement substantive OECD legal instruments, as well as an evaluation of Latvia’s policies and practices as compared to OECD best policies and practices.
OECD membership will allow Latvia to further tap into the vast reservoir of OECD expertise, advice and policy dialogue in order to support policy-makers and reformers. OECD members will also have a greater access to Latvia’s experience in different fields and will be able to learn from it.
An Accession Agreement between Latvia and the Organisation will be signed at a special ceremony on 2 June, during the annual meeting of the OECD Council at ministerial level in Paris. Latvia will become a member of the Organisation once it has taken the appropriate steps at the national level to accede to the OECD Convention and deposited its instrument of accession with the French government, depository of the OECD Convention.