Smart devices to be kept in class, says Education Ministry

The Ministry of Education and Science (IZM) is preparing changes to the Education Law, which would provide for a requirement for pupils to have Internet access, research journalism center Re:baltica reported on July 9.

The amendments to the Law state that remote learning through smart devices will continue to be one of the forms of learning on-site, and provision a device with Internet connection would be the family's responsibility.

The drafting of changes to the law was approved by the Minister for Education, Ilga Šuplinska (New Conservative Party). The Minister has expressed confidence that virtual reality can simulate class activity and  learning forms such as games and practice.

The Center reports that the Ministry has not yet made this plan public to the media, but has presented it to municipal representatives.

The Jurmala City Council Member, Elizabete Krivcova (Harmony),  said she considered it to be wrong - remote learning can be a solution to the crisis or emergency, but in a normal situation the right of children to acquire education on-site, in direct contact with a teacher who plays a key role in the pedagogical process, should be maintained.

Krivcova also said that there is free education in Latvia in accordance with Article 12 of the Constitution, so it would be illegal to require parents to provide a child with a device with an Internet connection; it should be done by the local government or state.

Clothing and footwear, as well as several learning items, are currently considered to be the means to be taken individually. This issue has also previously created uncertainties, since the Constitution provides for free education. In 2013, for example, the Education Law was clarified after the Ombudsman's intervention. Since then, families no longer have to buy their own textbooks and workbooks - they have to be provided to the school.

“Smart device is currently essential for student work,” said Šuplinskat. In the presentation to municipalities, survey results showed that 52% of pupils had access to all the necessary technologies. 23% said they still need a computer, just as many stated they still lack a stable Internet connection.

The Minister said that the proposal for changes to the law “does not mean that there will be sanctions”. The purchase of technology from structural funds is also planned, as is the social support system.

The third change envisaged is an agreement that the legal representatives of the pupils should subsequently conclude with the school on the acquisition of education. This idea has been assessed for a long time and that the contract is also needed to increase parental ownership and involvement in children's education and day-to-day learning. The planned amendments will soon be directed to government viewing.

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