Latvia's schools campaign against education network reform

A support campaign for small schools took place in Latvian schools on Monday, January 29. It was joined by students, parents, and staff from public schools and private schools. Singing the national anthem together, those gathered called on the government to build a more thought-out reform of the school network.

Dozens of schools took part in the campaign.  The school protest comes amid a plan by the Ministry of Education and Science to change the teacher wage funding model.

The state will no longer fund schools based on the number of pupils in the entire municipality but will allocate money to each school. This means municipalities will no longer have the ability to redistribute public money in favor of small schools, which could in turn lead to decisions to close those schools which do not meet certain pupil number criteria.

The event also took place today at Baltinava High School, which may lose its high school status due to the number criterion.

“Of course, I'm not naive. I understand that nothing will change right away from singing the anthem, yet it's very important to pay attention,“ said Imants Slišānas, principal of Baltinava High School.

“To show that we stand up for ourselves, for our school, also to remind us that the border area needs special criteria, special support. We are the living frontier, we are here for our school, for our Latgale, our Latvia.”

Gunita Logina, spokeswoman of the parent council of Riga Catholic Gymnasium, emphasized that with this campaign the schools want the ministry to listen to people, as well as stop planned changes.

"Children are not some sort of numbers in their Excel tables. These are all the children of Latvia!" Logina said.

A group of pupils, educators, and parents also gathered outside the building of the private secondary school “Gaismas tilts 97” at lunchtime today - chanting both the national anthem and the school anthem and uniting in defense of small schools. As a private school, Gaismas tilts is worried about whether the new criteria could also apply to these educational institutions.

The organizers point out that "we are all in the same bloodstream" and hope that in future small rural schools, private schools and interest education institutions will be supported more by larger schools in cities.

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