Education system 'does not exist'

  • 2007-08-13
  • From wire reports

UNDER FIRE: Latvian Education Minister Baiba Rivza has defended her efforts (Photo: Ministry of Education)

RIGA - Latvian President Valdis Zatlers launched an unexpected broadside at the state of Latvianeducation Aug 13, prompting an indignant response from education minister Baiba Rivza.

In an interview with Baltic News Service, Zatlers said: "Many different ideas coexist in education at present, but the education system as a system does not exist. The State Audit Office has also pointed to problems in education, something needs to be done."

When asked if the problems were the fault of Education Minister Baiba Rivza, Zatlers said that one person could not be blamed for the situation.

"It is the fault of the educators, the ministry, and not just the fault of one person. The problem can be solved only through a dialogue between the ministry and educators. It will allow us to understand what is the education system in Latvia and what it will be like in a couple of years," said Zatlers.

The president agreed that his opinion may be viewed as harsh by some, but believes that the truth as he sees it needs to be spoken: "The harsher we are at the moment… the faster we will start seeking the solutions," he said.

"After regaining independence we disregarded the old education system and, unfortunately, we were unable to come up with a united system instead," the president said.

"We do not feel our education to be a united system," he underscored.

Rivza expressed surprise at Zatlers' opinion and immediately went onto the defensive. "What does he mean by that? A system of several educational stages exists in Latvia, including pre-school, primary, secondary, professional and higher education," the minister responded.

"We have a succession in terms of political planning as well - for example, the Guidelines for Educational Development for 2007-13. We have practically all legal acts and documents necessary for the provision of education development," Rivza said.

"There is an education system, but we must develop it and continue dialogue and explanation of the system," Rivza maintained.

"The more dialogue and cooperation, the better. That is why regional educators' conferences are organized. The main task of the ministry during these conferences is to provide for and to facilitate dialogue with the teachers," underscored the minister, adding that the conferences are organized in cooperation with municipalities and trade unions representing education and science workers.

Rivza said that Latvian education is at the crossroads at present.

"We are on the verge of a decisive period, a challenge, a crossroads of how will we develop our education, with the EU and national funding, not forgetting about… aspects of prestige and attitude. There are many opportunities for the teacher to receive more than 400 lats (EUR 569) in salary," said the minister. "It is important for the teachers to be informed about the opportunities offered - additional grants, further education, and so on. This is why dialogue and cooperation is more necessary than ever," said Rivza.

Latvian Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis admitted that there are huge problems with the education system, but that it does exist as an integrated system.

"There are huge problems in the education system and we all know that. I agree, but a system 's of some sort 's exists. If that was not the case, there would be no education at all," Kalvitis told BNS.