Latvia is on a path back to Europe; Latvia aims for a quick integration with the Western society. Certainly, the absence of central funding severely hurt educational establishments. The educational system in Latvia is experiencing numerous difficulties that influence the life of pupils, students, teachers, and professors. The quality of education is lower than it was, and this situation, while worsening individual lives, will echo in the coming years causing growth in unemployment, lower revenues, and a rise in crime. Nonetheless, national and ethnic liberation holds the promise that in 10 to 15 years, Latvia, a recognized and notable member of European society, will achieve its goals, and its citizens will succeed in their goals for personal development. With the idea of reintegration with Europe in mind, Latvia created The European Integration Council (EIC). Education is considered a major part of that integration process.
Since 1991, Latvia has participated in international educational projects organized by the Council of Europe, the Educational Committee Council of Europe: Europe at School (since 1995), the European Center for Modern Languages (since 1995), and the Education for European Citizenship (since 1997). Latvia also has been encouraging learning and teaching about the history of the Europe in twentieth century, in-service training programs for teachers, and the "CDCC Teachers Bursaries Scheme" (1996). In addition to language and cultural programs, there are technological and communication projects.
The main issues and problems the Latvian system of education faces are material in nature. In order to function successfully in the future, the system needs monetary assistance. Additionally, the educational system of Latvia is still fighting against Soviet influence; Latvia must reorient its citizens from Soviet ideology to free market ideology.
Another problem is the transition to the Latvian language as a state language. The need for language training and teaching is massive: textbooks, classes, schools, and faster methodologies of teaching are needed. The low level of teacher training is another significant problem. National standards for training and assessing teachers must be adopted to create a nationwide system of assessment and certification for newly trained teachers.
On the way to integration with Europe, Latvia must coordinate its standards, statistical data, and understanding of European education, which requires renaming and retraining. There has been a clear decline in the education figures of the 1990s, and these figures must be converted to the accepted European standard.
Finally, serious reforms need allies. Latvian educators need methods, research, and successes to help future generations flourish. This demonstrates to perspective investors and the Western society that Latvia and its educators are on the right path—the path to the future where they can achieve the goals set forward by the government and Latvian visionaries.
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—Andrei G. Aleinikov
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