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Interest in online schools on the rise in Latvia

During the pandemic, pupils and parents' interest in distance education secondary schools is increasing, Latvian Radio reported November 6.

Since most schools now have to adapt to remote teaching, many people believe that schools that have worked in this system for a long time will provide higher-quality education. However, distance education schools' representatives say that this education cannot be compared with either on-site and remote learning. Consequently, such a step should be assessed very carefully.

In recent years, more and more students have chosen to study in online secondary schools. According to the Ministry of Education and Science, this year, the number increased by two thousand.

“Over the last three years, growth has averaged 20%. But this new school year saw a 30% increase in the number of pupils. It is interesting – they are young minors, their parents have decided that it is easier to learn in an environment that is already arranged and developed for remote learning,” said Gita Vāvere, principal of Rīga 1st Distance Education High School.

Usually, the most frequent choice of distance-learning secondary schools is made by young people who work, live abroad, and young athletes. Initially, these educational establishments were designed for adults who have not obtained secondary education and often live abroad.

An increase in the number of pupils has also been observed in the Brocēni Secondary School distance education program. Even now, in the middle of the school year, there is desire to switch to this program. 

“The queue currently has more than 20 pupils. And this is related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Deputy principal Olita Litvinova.

Students who simply do not want to attend a regular school are rarely accepted for distance learning. They are most often unable to self-discipline and complete the studies, said the principal. Rīga Distance Education High School also explained that distance learning is not the same as remote learning. 

"In distance learning, we count on the fact that students will learn independently. We provide them with materials and self-checking tests, taking into account that they will actually study independently. But those currently learning remotely are accustomed to being in touch.

First, the content is one that can be explained in the classroom and discussed. It is not intended to be acquired independently,” explained Edgars Grīns, principal of Rīga Distance Education High School.

He also pointed out that distance learning was not suitable for everyone. However, social contact is very important for pupils, so without a serious reason, there should be no need to transfer to distance schools.

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