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Shortage of teachers means training should be made more flexible in Latvia

Ieva Margeviča-Grinberga/ppmf.lu.lv
«Education for children should be changed from the ground up so that teachers are able to play a new role – work as supporters and advisors to assist in the education process,» says University of Latvia Docent and lead researcher Ieva Margeviča-Grinberga. She is confident it is possible to train a new generation of teachers only with equal and close cooperation between education institutions, municipalities and universities. Because of that, work has commenced on a new education model.

Dramatic shortage of teachers

«Latvia has a catastrophic shortage of teachers, especially for exact sciences,» says Margeviča-Grinberga. Approximately 30% of teachers who worked in Latvia’s schools in 2016 were of pre-retirement and retirement age. The average age of teachers in Latvia has been rising since 2014 – 64% of teachers are aged 40 to 60. Only 8% of teachers in Latvia are younger than 30. There was no rapid change of the active generation of teachers in Latvia in recent years. This is why it is expected to happen soon. It should be said that this problem is present not only in Latvia – data for August 2018 shows that German schools are experiencing a shortage of 35,000 teachers. This is the worst index in the past 30 years.

«The situation in Austria is just as dramatic. We should also keep in mind that 22 education programmes aimed to train new teachers will be closed down in the 2021/2022 school year. Instead there will be seven new programmes in several of Latvia’s higher education institutions. The shortage of teachers is a signal that emphasizes the severity of the situation. This is why it is necessary to offer innovative teacher education.»

Teachers as 2nd level higher education

Experts are currently working on providing growing teachers education that can be acquired in parallel to working at a school. Britain, Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland already use similar solutions. Single-year education programmes that offer people that already have higher education additional training in fields like chemistry, biology, philology in parallel to their work in education facilities, says University of Latvia docent.

Research performed in Europe shows that the old teacher education system has exhausted its usefulness. The time has come for schools to actively assist with teachers’ education. This work environment-based teacher education programme will be unique in Baltic States. It is expected to yield positive results. Experience of other countries shows that a chemist who has successfully finished his teacher’s training course will likely be able to help children study specific subjects.

«Combining theory and experience requires work-based education for teachers that motivates people to engage in independent studies. Knowledge presentation during the education process will be completely replaced with active training in groups, projects, and other activities.»

Work environment-based studies

University of Latvia decent says it is planned that specialists from different industries would engage in studies regarding work with children with consideration of different cultures and languages. People will be taught to resolve actual problems teachers face in schools, not imaginary situations. People will hone their skills when working with technologies, as well as ways to evaluate their own work and their students’ work.

Involvement of schools and cooperation with them

«In regards to teachers’ education in Latvia, we have to conclude that the time has come to change the way we think. The time has come for shared responsibility! If schools need teachers (and they do), they should become involved in education of said teachers. On top of that, they should get involved from day one – as soon as potential teachers apply for studies,» says Margeviča-Grinberga.

Ideas require funding if people want them implemented. In this case funding includes several aspects, because potential teachers will work at schools during their studies. This means funding will come in the form of Education and Science Ministry’s budget spots and scholarship, as well as wages in schools.

Education should be composed by us

«Latvia’s secondary schools are in dire need of teachers in different subjects. This programme will allow English language philologists to become English language teachers, lawyers to become history, politics or social science teachers, etc. We should be the ones to make education, and now is the time to do it!» stresses University of Latvia docent.


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