In Riga, in order to be accepted into high school, the ninth-grade graduate had to have at least 35% in the centralized exam, although the threshold for passing the exams in the country is 10%.
"We see this difference as extremely large and it is not justified. Such a disproportionate limit is not acceptable in our view," said Ruta Siliņa, representative of the Ombudsman's Office.
However, Riga is not the only one with very strict conditions. In Jelgava, the criterion is even higher.
In the meantime, at Ādaži High School, which has about 2,000 pupils, up to 10 first-graders will start this year. There is no shortage of people who want learn at this school.
Ādaži High School geography teacher and acting secretary Sandra Voskāne said that the school “has the right not to accept [pupils into high school] if, for example, the average rating of Year 9 is below 7. Since Ādaži High School offers 6 parallel specialized forms in high school, the evaluations of these specific subjects are also examined.”
The ombudsman's office has seen a trend of opening many parallel forms around Rīga.
"At the moment we see in the context of Rīga and not only in the context of Rīga, that schools - strong secondary schools - are doing the following: opening up more first year forms and reducing the number of high school forms. Rīga attracts the vicinity's strong pupils," said the representative of the Ombudsman's Office, Ruta Siliņa.
Local governments base their criteria on the fact that secondary schools have a role to prepare students for higher education and students should be motivated to learn.
In order to exclude the various reception criteria, the Ministry of Education and Science intends to equalize them in all Latvian secondary schools.
The ministry's senior expert, Olita Arkle, said the ministry is working on “amendments to the provisions of the General Education Law, and the criteria will be introduced and developed in the presence of each local government, education authorities, and educational institutions.”
The Ministry will apply for amendments in the autumn so that the new regulation can enter into force next year.