Demographic decline will require closing schools - OECD

The demographic decline will require Latvia to revisit the education system’s capacity, including numbers of schools and tertiary education institutions, and staffing levels, according to a report released Thursday by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The report notes that "raising teacher salaries to nationally comparable levels will improve recruitment but will necessitate bigger class sizes and higher student teacher ratios".

Latvia should make the improvement of its education information system and the strategic use of research to inform its reform agenda into a priority, says the report. It goes on to say that strengthening self-evaluation and teacher appraisal would help in schools.

Among the shortcomings of Latvia's education system, according to the report, are Latvia’s public expenditure on education and per-student funding at all levels, and "making clear spending choices" will be necessary for making long-term efficiency gains.

The report stresses the need for a more systematic approach to the development of teachers and school leaders, noting that efforts are needed to support students in rural areas.

The report does however praise the progress of Latvia's education system since the country restored its independence in 1991.

“It is remarkable how Latvia has managed to improve its student performance considering the socio-economic challenges of the past two decades,” said Andreas Schleicher, OECD Director for Education and Skills, presenting the report in Riga with Education Minister Kārlis Šadurskis.

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