Recommendation 2: Narrow the divide between general and vocational upper secondary education

Latvia’s upper secondary education system has long been starkly divided between general and vocational pathways. The ongoing reorganisation of the school network and gradual introduction of modular vocational programmes provide Latvia with an opportunity to further integrate general and vocational programmes. The Latvian government should actively pursue this path to ensure its upper secondary students can get the best of both worlds.

Municipalities and MoES should continue promoting organisational and pedagogical innovations to narrow the divide between upper secondary general and vocational pathways. They should not overlook the need for teachers to have professional development and the time to collaborate and innovate. The VECCs can be considered particularly promising innovations for their potential to integrate the two educational pathways.

The planned reform of the upper secondary curriculum into a competency-based one could play a central role in this process. Latvia should be careful not to repeat the problems of the present curriculum and “saturate” the new one. It should use the opportunity to reconsider the number of mandatory general subjects within the vocational curriculum and explore to what extent they could be assessed other than through paper-based tests, for example the situated assessment approaches currently being tried in the work-based learning pilot. This may also help promote take up of the double qualification which provides students with greater opportunities and flexibility in their educational and career aspirations throughout their lives.

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