Promoting equity in educational opportunities
Though Latvia has made good progress in expanding access and improving learning outcomes, the data suggest there still are considerable disparities in learning opportunities. Despite a range of policies, from compulsory participation in early childhood education and care for 5-6 year-olds to ensuring free basic and upper secondary education, there are marked differences in student performance between rural and urban schools, while students with special education needs and/or from at-risk groups do not benefit equally from quality learning opportunities. Reducing inequities will require greater and more targeted efforts to support students in rural areas and/or at risk of social exclusion. Latvia needs to strengthen the quality of teaching in rural schools and continue its efforts to integrate students with special needs in regular schools. Furthermore, at the tertiary level the funding model currently under development should be more equitable, moving away from the purely merit-based selection system to ensure promising disadvantaged students have access to free study places.