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Ministry: idea for compulsory secondary education should be put on hold for now

Kārlis Šadurskis/flickr.com.
Considering that Latvia’s Education and Science Ministry has several ongoing industry reforms, it would be best to put the proposal for compulsory secondary education on hold, said Education and Science Minister Kārlis Šadurskis during a meeting of Saeima’s Education, Culture and Science Committee.

Education and Science Ministry’s representative Gunta Arāja emphasized that there are multiple documents that detail movement towards compulsory secondary education. According to statistical data, there are close to 11% of residents in Latvia who do not have secondary education. This means the majority of Latvia’s residents decided to acquire secondary education voluntarily.

Arāja explains that this data is also associated with the structure of the country’s labour market. She emphasizes that after performing an evaluation of Latvia’s education system, OECD concluded that this proportion is stable and is relatively low among other European countries.

The ministry explains that among those 11% are people with special needs, dropouts and people who have immigrated to other countries. Only 1.4% of 18,000 ninth-graders do not continue their studies.

There are multiple countries in which secondary education is already compulsory. In most EU member states, such as Croatia, Czech Republic, Lithuania and Estonia, secondary education is voluntary.

Arāja emphasizes that one challenge for the transition to compulsory secondary education would be age determination. «We have received commentaries from our colleagues on ensuring successful and flexible transition to new education levels. The question is also about the definition of secondary education and the standard for people who are unable to reach this level for whatever objective reasons,» says Arāja.

She says the ministry already has several ongoing reforms. Transition to compulsory secondary education would be best performed two or three years after successful implementation of those reforms – somewhere around 2023 or 2024. At the same time, it would be necessary to change several regulations and the Constitution to ensure successful transition.

Looking at the proposal, the ministry concluded the transition to compulsory education would not resolve existing problems on its own. This is why the ministry believes successful realization of ongoing reforms takes priority.

Šadurskis says that it should not be the main focus, because the country’s education system already stands before major changes – it is necessary to create new content, which requires time to assess and decide how things are supposed to work in the future. The minister also adds that sorting out the system will make it easier to spot the real percentage of people who do not have secondary education.

Saeima member Varis Krūmiņš from Latvian Association of Regions thanked Šadurskis for his decision to focus on existing reforms before tackling the secondary education matter.


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