On August 3, Čakša arrived on a two-day visit in Latgale. The first conclusions are harsh: Rēzekne minority school teachers have insufficient knowledge of Latvian, while in the border area, schools need to think about how to ensure the same quality of education as it is in more populated areas.
“My concern is about Rēzekne City. I see that the local government, especially in Rēzekne, needs to work very much on teacher training,” said the minister.
“At the moment, the local government has funding and the Ministry offers courses for teachers, the organization of camps for children, materials for transition to Latvian. There's time until September 1.”
Meanwhile, Baltinava High School principal Imants Slišāns stressed that "we are the living border of Latvia and there must be high schools". In the last ten years, the number of pupils has remained stable – around 150, while the new criterion – 60 children in high school – is unfulfillable.
The Minister does not support the idea of reducing the criterion for the number of pupils and hopes that politicians will support the creation of a special Eastern program. It could include seven eastern border schools and focus on increasing the quality of education and teachers' remuneration.
For the locals, the upkeep of high schools is a matter of security. “If 10% of these young people remain on the spot, build their families, build their own business or work here, then they need a school,” said Andris Slišāns, parents' representative of the Baltinava High School Council.
On the other hand, the school principal added: "If the only school is closed, [..] it determines the fate of the place. Therefore, secondary schools should exist here in Baltinava, Rekava, Viļaka, Kārsava, Zilupe. All in a row! "
However, Čakša said that the biggest threat to national security is minority schools, which are still not prepared to teach pupils in classes 1, 4, and 7 after a month in Latvian only.
The Ministry working group is preparing a report on solutions for high-quality education in general and secondary education, which will be presented to the government on August 15.