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Straujuma: school network must not be viewed separately from other education reforms

Laimdota Straujuma/flickr.com/State Chancellery.
A well-organized and reasonably shaped school network is an important condition for improving education quality in Latvia. The new study on the optimal general education institutions network would serve as foundation for future education reforms. Still, additional discussions for certain matters are still needed, said members of Saeima’s Sustainable Development Committee and Education, Culture and Science Committee at a joint meeting.

«We cannot and must not view the school network separately from other education reforms. Reform of teachers’ wages and the upcoming transition towards competence-based education materials will serve as investment into our children and Latvia’s development. But that is not enough, because half-empty schools will make it harder to ensure full-time load for teachers. On top of that, children will have limited opportunity to receive quality education,» said head of Sustainable Development Committee Laimdota Straujuma after the meeting.
 

As noted by education committee’s chairman Aldis Adamovičs, organizing the school network requires support from municipalities: «Without involvement from municipalities, we cannot secure a well-structured network of education facilities to adapt to demographic changes. The matter regarding the school network often causes sharp emotions, considering the fear of changes. However, it is important to view each case separately to find the most appropriate solution.»
 

Saeima press-service notes that deputies were shown survey results for the creation of an optimal general education facilities network in Latvia prepared by economic geographer Jāņis Turlajs, publishing house Jāņa seta and Education and Science Ministry. The survey studied residents’ demographic structure, migration flow, school network in Latvia’s municipalities and other factors.
 

As Education and Science Minister Kārlis Šadurskis told deputies that, looking at the funding provided to education, Latvia is one of the leaders in the European Union. However, he said it is far more important to consider efficient use of those finances.
 

It is mentioned in the study that formation of an optimal school network is delayed by the inability of municipalities to reach an agreement for cooperation in education, as well as politicians’ reluctance to make unpopular decisions. Also there is a lack of understanding among residents about the need for structural reforms and their benefits, said Turlajs.
 

Straujuma and Adamovičs said after the meeting that both committees will continue following the matter regarding the school network and plan to address this matter in future meetings to further improve education quality in Latvia.

BNN

02-11-2017
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