RIGA - Ten years ago, Estonia made significant investments in its education system, which resulted in a success story, while Latvia delayed its opportunity, such an opinion was expressed in an interview with LETA by the new Minister of Education and Science Anita Muizniece (New Conservative Party).
As the Minister explained, if the school systems of the Baltic States were compared as factories, then Estonia chose to buy powerful equipment for its factory, which can achieve high productivity. She pointed out that the equipment is very expensive, while the factory workers - mediocre. At the same time, Estonia has to reckon with the fact that poorer workers might have to leave the factory. Despite the cost, Estonia still took risks and put its system in order.
"It's different in Latvia - we are continuing to work with the old equipment, which is no longer productive. While Estonia took a risk, meanwhile Latvia criticized its neighbor for taking a large loan,'' she said, adding that in Latvia, the factory workers were encouraged to continue working with the old equipment while it was still working.
Lithuania, in turn, assessed both situations - Estonia had large expenses, Lithuania could not afford this, but does not want to repeat the Latvian version, Muizniece said.
"Now, 10 years later, Estonia is praised for its successful investment in quality and growth, but in the meantime we have missed our opportunity," said the Minister of Education and Science, adding that it was not the fault of today's government. "Here is the story about at least 20 years when the country was developing. We left the Soviet era, but we did not take bold steps," commented Muizniece.
Asked whether she could ask the Cabinet of Ministers more than 400 million euros to invest in the salaries of Latvian teachers, as requested by the Latvian Union of Education and Science Workers (LIZDA), Muizniece pointed out that there is an objective reality, opportunities and needs.
At the same time, she noted that the issue of salaries could easily be calculated - with a ratio to the average salary in the country. "It wouldn't be a bad option for a teacher either. There are risks, but then the state could just measure how much a teacher has to be paid,'' said the politician.
At the same time, Muizniece reminded that reality and possibilities must be taken into account, and there will be a gradual increase in salaries. However, she pointed out that this did not mean that there would be no "ambitious decisions" in regards to teachers' salaries for next year.
"I am aware of the real budget possibilities, but at the same time I am ready to fight so that teachers receive from the state not only gratitude for the crazy Covid-19 period, but also gratitude for the fact that it is a vital profession," said the Minister.
She pledged to fight for teachers' salaries and demand the maximum possible amount from the government, which is likely to be a step-by-step approach. "There is no need to cherish vain illusions, but at the same time teachers must be convinced that the country needs them," the Minister said.