Lifelong learning: A fragmented area of policy
The government has an important role to play in promoting and removing barriers to adult learning, ensuring the portability of skills and improving information about training opportunities (oECD, 2012b, 2013a; Desjardins and Rubenson, 2013). yet lifelong learning is a fragmented policy area in Latvia. Ten different institutions are in charge of implementing Latvia’s lifelong learning strategy, in collaboration with a range of other stakeholders (OECD, 2015a; EAEA, 2011). These institutions include nine national ministries: MoES and the ministries of Welfare, Culture, Agriculture, Health, Regional Development and Local Government, Justice, Economy, and the Interior.
In addition, municipalities are also responsible for providing their residents with adult non-formal education. There is currently little information available on what non-formal education and training opportunities municipalities offer, nor on their quality. The economic downturn will probably have reduced the resources available to municipalities who in turn are likely to have reduced or in some cases stopped offering non-formal education and training opportunities to its residents. There however is no information to support this assumption. This should be essential information for planning the provision of education and training of adults - formal and non-formal - throughout Latvia. The government has recognised the situation and intends to improve data collection on the non-formal education and training opportunities provided by municipalities on regular basis (MoES, 2014).
Although this variety of providers can have advantages in terms of diversity and innovation, the different offerings can also confuse students and employers or lead to the duplication of tasks such as curriculum design (oECD, 2014b). Further, although the main funds for lifelong learning are distributed from MoES and the Ministry of Welfare one can question whether in a small country such fragmentation is desirable and whether it is contributing to the slow progress in implementing Latvia’s lifelong learning strategy (OECD, 2015a).