Latvian national Observatory report 2000
MODERNISATION OF VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN LATVIA

5.1.3. Reform of teacher salaries

The state budget programme “Reform of teacher salaries”, which was begun on 1 March 2000, provides for the gradual reform of teacher salaries until 1 January 2003. This programme has been developed by the Ministry of Education and Science together with the Latvian Educators Union. The goal of this reform is to increase teachers’ salaries so that the best and most capable teachers do not leave schools due to low wages. For example, in 1999 the average monthly wage of those employed in education establishments was 117 LVL, which is lower by one sixth than the national average monthly wage 139 LVL, but the average wage of vocational school directors was 154 LVL, which is equal to the average wage in the public sector. Both certification and the wage reform are intended to prevent the collapse of the education system and to ensure that the quality of education will not suffer due to a lack of teachers.

5.2. Pre-service formal training of teachers and trainers

5.2.1.General teacher training

In the 1999/2000 a.y. 8 higher education establishments offered teacher training. Teacher training is provided by two paths: 1) second level higher vocational teacher training programmes, which include a bachelor’s degree standard (during this period of studies the teacher undergoes specialisation, for example in Latvian language or mathematics); 2) second level higher vocational teacher training programmes which are acquired after completing bachelor’s level academic programmes, Both paths lead to teacher’s professional qualification.

Pursuit of a masters degree is up to the teacher.

Although 20% of all students are currently enrolled in teaching or education sciences programmes, there is a shortage of teachers at schools, because of the very low wage levels and low prestige of the profession. In the 1999/2000 academic year there were 528 unfilled teaching positions at vocational education establishments, which is 8% of the necessary staff.

5.2.2. Training for craft and professional subjects teachers

There is no special system for the training of vocational education teachers in Latvia.

Craft teachers are generally professionals in a certain field who must acquire pedagogical training. Five higher education establishments - Riga Technical University, Liepaja Academy of Pedagogy and the Riga School of Teaching and Education Administration, Latvia University of Agriculture, Rezekne Higher Education Institution - offer special programmes of vocational teacher training for teachers who have completed secondary vocational education. These are programmes providing general knowledge on pedagogy and psychology which lead to a qualification of vocational education teacher.

If a person who holds a diploma of higher education in a professional field (other than teaching) is employed as a vocational education teacher, then it is possible to acquire vocational teacher training at the University of Latvia Adult Teacher Training Centre within a year, or to take the standard courses in pedagogy applying toward a bachelor’s degree in teaching at the Daugavpils University of Pedagogy or Rezekne Higher Education Institution in two years. After completing these courses, persons will have achieved higher pedagogical education.

However, both previously mentioned options are intended for persons who are already employed in the vocational education system and wish to up-grade their qualification. In Latvia there is only one programme of study that partially also trains new vocational education teachers. This is a professional studies programme at the Rezekne Higher Education Institution in Teaching of Arts and Crafts and Elementary Economics with an additional specialisation in work at vocational schools.

At the beginning of the 1999/2000 a.y. vocational schools under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Science, which are located mostly in larger cities, had vacancies in 19% of the craft teacher posts, while schools under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture, which are located in rural areas, had only 1% vacancies. This means that in cities people prefer to work in industry rather than teach others for minimal wages, but in the countryside, in conditions of general unemployment, work in school provides a small, but stable monthly income.

5.3. In-service training for teachers and trainers

In-service training for teachers and trainers largely depends on the individual and the school director. Each school establishes a salary bonus budget to stimulate high quality work and is solely responsible for the way it is disbursed. An analysis of further training opportunities taken by teachers at vocational education establishments shows that 47% of the teachers surveyed have taken the opportunity to up-date their qualification.

In-service teacher training is offered by:

  • all teacher training colleges;

  • the Professional Education Centre of the Ministry of Education and Science;

  • the Teacher Training Support Centre of the Ministry of Education and Science;

  • the National Youth Initiative Centre of the Ministry of Education and Science;

  • local and regional school boards;

  • private institutions;

  • various international organisations and programmes;

  • the Latvian Chamber of Crafts and other professional associations.

Courses offered by the Latvian Chamber of Crafts are very popular, because upon acquiring a master craftsman’s diploma vocational subject teachers receive a salary equivalent to that received by a university graduate.

The weakest area in training for teachers of vocational education establishments is co-operation with industry, because teachers are not provided the opportunity to learn how to work with the latest technologies available in the workplace.

6. Research on vocational education

Primary statistics on all main processes are collected and compiled by the Central Statistics Bureau, which annually presents approximately 60 different informative publications, while statistics on registered unemployment are compiled by the State Employment Service, which publishes an annual review. The Ministry of Economics publishes an annual report on economic development which treats economic and social development, priorities and reforms in economic policy. The Ministry of Welfare publishes an annual social report which characterises the social climate, employment, healthcare and social security.

On the national level studies on vocational education take the form of state ordered applied research. In 1999 the Ministry of Education and Science ordered a study from the University of Latvia Institute of Philosophy and Sociology “A sociological portrait of Latvian youth” which also reflected the vocational education system as a part of the lives of young people.

Each year the funding available for state ordered research decreases, which is why the number of studies decreases: 9 in 1998, 5 in 1999, 4 in 2000.

Unfortunately, it must be concluded that vocational education research receives only one tenth of the funds available in the Ministry of Education applied research budget.

Table 7. Research financing

Year MoES research financing, thousands LVL MoES VET research financing, thousands LVL
1998 141 15.13
1999 106.3 10
2000 92.4 10.5

Source: MoES data

In 1999 the Ministry of Education and Science Vocational and Continuing Education Department ordered the following studies:

1. Methodology for studying the employment patterns of graduates of vocational secondary education establishments - this study compiled the experience of other European countries in following-up and analysing the career paths of graduates and prepared recommendations concerning the methodology for doing research on employment patterns of graduates of vocational secondary education establishments in Latvia.

2. A report on the Latvian education system, based on the new education legislation.

3. Feasibility study on implementing vocational education programmes using the State language in classes of students whose working language is Russian - this study was done at the Rezekne Higher Education Institution and concluded that the majority of students had not acquired State language skills to such a level as to be able to successfully continue their studies in Latvian, that students were not sufficiently exposed to a Latvian cultural environment and that at some schools representatives of the administration and teaching staff demonstrated a negative attitude toward teaching subjects in the Latvian language, because teachers need to learn specialised terminology, and there is a lack of instructional materials for teaching subjects in Latvian to students whose working language is Russian.

4. Feasibility study on implementing a dual system in vocational training in Latvia.

5. Inventory of learning materials and related costs for vocational training in the wood processing profiles.

In the year 2000 the Ministry of Education and Science Vocational and Continuing Education department ordered the following studies:

1. A continuation of the feasibility study on implementing vocational education programmes using the State language in classes of students whose working language is Russian.

2. A study of employment patterns of graduates of secondary vocational education establishments.

3. An economic analysis of the costs of vocational education programmes and a calculation of normative coefficients.

4. The labour market niche and role of persons holding a qualification of level 4 in various economic profiles.

Almost half of these studies has been performed by the Academic Information Centre/ Latvian National Observatory.

The most comprehensive studies on vocational education have been performed by the Latvian National Observatory following orders by the European Training Foundation. In 1999 and the first half of 2000 the following studies have been performed:

1.Vocational Education in Latvia - 1999;

2. Non-university Higher Vocational Education;

3. Vocational Education as a Means of Combating Social Exclusion;

4. A comparative analysis of the vocational education systems and regulated professions in the Baltic states.

 

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