Recommendation 2: Promote equity and excellence in education, with a focus on rural schools
Though Latvia has made good progress in expanding access and improving learning outcomes, the data suggest there are marked differences in student performance between rural and urban schools in Latvia, while students with special education needs and/or at risk of social exclusion do not equally benefit from quality learning opportunities. The Latvian government should therefore continue its efforts to ensure that its school system is effective in meeting the learning needs of all its students. it should consider complementary strategies to meet these challenges.
Latvia should continue its efforts to make the school system more efficient and ensure that the freed-up resources are invested in the quality of teaching, in particular in rural schools. MoEs and the municipalities could promote different ways of rationalising the school network more directly, including school closures, collaborations, consolidation and the enhanced use of iCT for remote teaching and learning. For example it could consider defining clear criteria for initiating the closing or consolidation of schools, and incentives to promote these processes.
MoES and municipalities should also enhance their efforts to promote networking and school-to-school collaborations to help reduce the isolation of schools and build social capital within and across Latvia’s rural schools. Professional associations could be strengthened to enable them to play a role in facilitating these activities. in addition, MoEs should consider providing more targeted support (programmes) to underperforming schools.
making Latvia’s schools more inclusive will require changes at the community and policy level, but also depends on the ability and motivation of teachers and school leaders to identify and work with children with special needs. The proposed review of initial education and continuing professional development should therefore ensure this area is sufficiently covered. The planned professional standards should also reflect the central importance of special education.
The school funding model currently being piloted allocates additional funds for students with special education needs and creates incentives for their integration into mainstream classrooms but does not take students’ socio-economic backgrounds into account. In time, Latvia should consider further refining the school funding model to include socio-economic backgrounds. Any use of special grants to support students at risk of social exclusion should be designed to be simple to administer.