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Ensuring an effective governance structure

At national level, the Saeima, the Cabinet of Ministers and MoES are the main decision-making bodies for education policy. MoES is the main body responsible for policy development and implementation in the fields of education, science, sports, state language and youth policy.

Box 1.1. Latvia’s education priorities for the period 2014-20

According to the Education development Guidelines 2014-2020, the overarching goal of the education system is to provide its citizens with a “quality and inclusive education for personal development, human welfare and sustainable development of the country”. This document sets out the goal and sub-goals for the development of the education system and the directions (“lines of action”) for their implementation, as well as the corresponding performance indicators and desired results. The guidelines define three sub-goals in accordance with the analysis of the issues identified in the previous planning period (2007-2013) and future challenges.

  • 1. Education environment: To increase the quality of the education environment by optimising the content and developing a suitable infrastructure. The environmental quality of education at all educational levels is determined by its content, promotion of improvement and strengthening of individual knowledge, competences and skills, and professional and competent teaching personnel that pass this educational content to students; a modern educational environment; educational processes that promote comprehension and acquisition of the content; and the embodiment of inclusive education principles envisaging equal opportunities irrespective of needs and abilities, property status, social status, race, nationality, sex, religion and political beliefs, health conditions, place of residence, and occupation of students in an available, respectful, and supportive environment.
  • 2. Individual skills: To promote development of individual’s professional and social skills based on values education for life and competitiveness in the work environment. Professional and social skills are improved in the most purposeful way when an individual chooses an appropriate professional growth direction for the future, providing support mechanisms for schools and education leavers at the same time, thus increasing the overall education level and employment of Latvian society, while promoting the civic co-responsibility and social activity of students as a result of measures outside formal education, as well as strengthening the principle of lifelong learning.
  • 3. Effective management: To improve efficiency of resource management by development of institutional excellence and resource consolidation of educational institutions. improving resource management efficiency at the national, regional and local level by developing institutional excellence, including the introduction of education quality supervision or monitoring that will enable all interested parties to track, evaluate, and consequently affect education-related processes and results; optimisation of financing models; provision of education availability; and improvement of the international competitiveness of education.

These sub-goals are converted into 12 lines of action. Building on these lines of action, the guidelines include a framework with performance indicators and targets to be achieved by the years 2017 and 2020. MoEs monitors and evaluates progress against these indicators.

Source: MoEs (2014), Education Development Guidelines 2014-2020, ministry of Education and science, Riga, http://m.likumi.lv/doc.php?id=266406.

MoES is responsible for the whole education sector, ranging from ECEC to tertiary education. it develops policies and programmes, supervises and monitors the implementation of education policies, and approves the standards for education at basic and upper secondary levels and for teacher training and qualifications. it is also the founder of some government educational institutions with others founded by local governments, private persons or other ministries. MoES allocates state funding and funding from Eu structural funds to educational institutions directly or through its subordinate agencies. it also assures the quality of the system (MoEs, 2015).

MoES is supported by a number of subordinate agencies, several of them created in 2009 as a result of reorganisation and mergers aimed at reducing the complexity of the system and improving overall efficiency and effectiveness. These mergers took place under pressure from severe budget cuts at the time of the economic crisis. The subordinate agencies are charged with the following tasks:

  • • The State Education Quality Service (Izglitibas kvalitates valsts dienests, IKvD; established in 2009; around 60 employees) supervises education quality and is responsible for inspecting the education system from primary to upper secondary level and tertiary education level, including all public and private education institutions. it registers education institutions, licenses education programmes and carries out school (re)accreditation.
  • • The national Centre for Education (Valsts izglitibas satura centrs, ViSC; established in 2009; around 100 employees) is involved in development and co-ordination activities. Amongst these are curricula and examinations for pre-school, basic and general secondary education and vocational education, as well as subject standards and sample teaching-learning programmes. ViSC acts as a co-ordinator for the development of textbooks, the support system for learners with special needs and teachers’ continuing professional development, as well as organising extra-curricular activities.
  • • The State Education Development Agency (Valsts izglitibas attistibas agentura, ViAA; established in 2012; around 140 employees) has very diverse functions within the sectors of education and science, including international co-operation. it oversees all activities related to Eu programmes such as the Lifelong Learning Programme.
  • • The Latvian Language Agency (Latviesu valodas agentura; established in 2009; around 20 employees) aims to enhance the status and promote a sustainable development of the Latvian language. The agency implements the state language policy, formulated in the Guidelines of the State Language Policy for 2015-2020.
  • • The Agency for International Programmes for Youth (Jaunatnes starptautisko programmu agentura; established in 1999; around 30 employees) promotes youth activities and mobility (e.g. within the Eu). The agency implements non-formal learning and information programmes and projects targeted at youth and those working with youth, and supports the link between non-formal learning and lifelong education.
  • • Two agencies, the Latvian Council of science (Latvijas Zinatnes padome) and the Latvian Academy of sciences (Latvijas Zinatnu akademija), fulfil advisory and representative functions with regard to research issues. The council also funds research and development (Rad) projects (MoEs, 2015).

other government actors also play a part in the education system. Branch ministries like the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Welfare supervise and finance some vocational schools, gymnasia and tertiary education institutions. The complex governance structure has more than once led to challenges in terms of co-ordination, implementation of policies and optimisation of provision.

For example in 2014/15, 33 of the 63 vocational education schools were under the responsibility of MoES, 14 under the Ministry of Culture, 1 under the Ministry of Welfare, 7 were run by municipalities and 8 were private institutions. This has led to overlap in the offer of programmes, limited labour market relevance and a lack of differentiation between the vocational schools. In a context of declining student numbers and tight public budgets this situation is not sustainable. Therefore as part of a larger reform of vocational education to improve the quality, relevance and attractiveness of vocational education, Latvia has set out to reorganise its vocational school network and has reduced the number of government vocational schools to 30 in 2015 through mergers and closures.

At the tertiary education level the reorganisation of tertiary education institutions is supported through European structural Funds, through the “Development of Institutional Capacity of Scientific Institutions” activity. We will look into this issue in more detail in Chapter 5.

 
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