Latvia's schools could be 1,000 teachers short for next year

At the beginning of the next school year, schools will lack nearly 1,000 teachers, according to the results of the survey conducted by the Saeima Education, Culture and Science Committee. The largest shortage of teachers is in Latvian language, literature, and math subjects, Latvian Radio reported on June 8.

The Chair of the Saeima Education, Culture and Science Committee's Subcommittee on Higher Education, Science, and Human Capital, Česlavs Batņa, conducted a survey at 335 general education institutions in February of this year.

According to data from the National Education Information System, there were nearly 360 free vacancies in these institutions. According to the survey, there were 410 actual vacancies. Batņa said that schools don't indicate actual vacancy numbers because they are afraid to reveal the real result, but given that there are 617 general education establishments in Latvia, the shortage of teachers could be twice as high.

According to the survey, the largest shortage of teachers is in Latvian, literature, and math subjects, with more than 100 vacancies in each of them. The most vacancies will be in Rīga, Jūrmala, Daugavpils, Jelgava, and the municipalities of Preiļi and Sigulda.

"It is essential to strengthen support for educators – health insurance, public transport, but very many have stressed that teachers' time is taken up by communication with parents and that some regulatory framework is needed, because it will also reduce teacher's stress in communication or place boundaries. And it is also very important to provide a mentor to new teachers so that this new teacher can see support from school,” Batņa said.

The Student Union of Latvia (LSA) which has spoken to those studying to be teachers also agrees with the recommendations.

"We've talked to pedagogy students, where most also work in school in parallel with their studies. A very large part is already working from year 1 and, as they themselves point out, it is a very big problem, because there is a high load. They do not have sufficient support during their studies – this transition from studies to school is huge and they need to adapt.

"Young teachers face mobbing at school from their senior colleagues, who believe that the way they do is the right way, and God forbid there is some new initiative. In the first few years, teachers are overloaded, as well as lack a support mentoring system," said Liene Levada, president of the LSA.


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