School year begins in Latvia with concerns about lack of teachers

Take note – story published 1 year ago

The new school year begins in Latvia, as usual, on September 1. The main challenges are the lack of study resources and teachers. These challenges are also accompanied by Ukrainian children joining schools and uncertainty about the Covid-19 situation, Latvian Television reported.

Year after year, one of the most pressing problems is the lack of teachers, which may be higher this year than in the previous school year. Teachers who left their jobs during Covid-19 restrictions have not returned. The decision to teach only in the official language will create new challenges, including requiring mandatory knowledge of Latvian for teachers.

“The quickest thing we can do is to build a mentoring system so that new teachers don't go away,” said Education and Science Minister Adviser Jānis Ozols.

The shortage of teachers is expected to amount to around 3%. The problem is particularly relevant in the capital, said Ivars Balamovskis, chief of the Education Board of Rīga City Council. Mostly those are Latvian language, mathematics, science teachers – there are over 100 vacancies in the capital. 

Rūdofs Kalvāns, president of the Association of School Leaders of Latvia, said:

“There will be a series of lessons simply not taking place. There is no teacher and there is no one to substitute.”

Kristīne Kinča, deputy advisor to the union of local governments, said:

“There are a lot of municipalities where there is a lack of teachers. They try to be creative and redistribute lessons, but that leads to the teachers' burnout.”

Teachers have been experiencing headaches for the last three years preparing new content, as there have been problems with providing available learning resources so far. The State Education and Content Centre indicated that around 50-60% of materials are available for new content, both physiclaly and digitally.

Year 1-9 materials are the least suitable for science subjects: physics, chemistry, engineering. This means that teachers will have to look for and combine the necessary literature.

In preparation for the new academic year, the Ministry has also prepared three possible scenarios for continuing the learning process if there is an outbreak of Covid-19 infection. All three plans foresee that learning will take place on-site, but there might be temporary changes in case of high morbidity. Masks and testing are envisaged. There will be no specific vaccination requirements. 

That alone doesn't end the challenges. This year, over 3,000 Ukrainian children will start or continue learning in Latvia.

“We are supposed to have these children fit into the flow of Latvian language from September 1. To ensure this and these children can understand what is being taught to them, there have been two series of camps for language learning since the end of May. Information has emerged that about half of the children starting to learn have attended such camps. We have not spent all the financial resources planned for this, so we have expected that there could also be repeated camps for learning the language in the autumn,” said the adviser for Education Minister Jānis Ozols.


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