Funding of early childhood education and care
Local governments own public pre-school education institutions - pirmsskolas izglītības iestāde (bērnudārzs). Beeing founders they are responsible for the financing of education institutions (salaries of teachers, administrative and technical staff, learning materials, maintenance of buildings and utilities). State budget is provided for the salaries of teachers providing compulsory pre-school education for 5 and 6 year olds.
Although debates had arisen about abolishing mandatory 5 and 6 year olds pre-school education due to the economic situation in state, the compulsory education for 5 and 6 year olds was financed from state budget and remained obligatory also in the years of economic crisis.
In 2016, the local governments became responsible for providing financial support to parents whose children between ages 1.5 and 4 are not benefiting from public childcare in municipal ECEC institutions.
Funding of single structure education
Local governments own schools of general education at pamatizglītība (integrated primary and lower secondary) level. At these schools the wages for pedagogical staff are allocated from the state budget while the maintenance and utilities costs are covered through the local government budgets.
The funding model „money follows the child” was introduced in school year 2009/2010. The new amalgamed municipalities that established after carrying into effect the national administrative reform were able to manage school network adjusted according to the number of pupils, demographic trends and new funding model.
The state provides all necessary finances for schools established for children with special needs, boarding schools, schools and classes of social correction. State gymnasiums receive extra finances because they also fulfil other functions in the field of teachers' further education and regional centre of methodology.
The state directly supervises and provides funding for vocational schools. It is foreseen to pass vocational schools owned by the state to local governments after the regional reform is completed. So far as schools remain owned by the state, they are financed through the responsible ministries – Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Interior Affairs.
Funding of upper-secondary education
Local governments own schools of general education at upper-secondary level. At these schools the wages for pedagogical staff are allocated from the state budget while the maintenance and utilities costs are covered through the local government budgets.
The funding model „money follows the pupil” was introduced in school year 2009/2010. The new amalgamed municipalities that established after carrying into effect the national administrative reform were able to manage school network adjusted according to the number of pupils, demographic trends The state provides all necessary finances for schools established for children with special needs, boarding schools, schools and classes of social correction. State gymnasiums receive extra finances because they also fulfil other functions in the field of teachers' further education and regional centre of methodology.
The state directly supervises and provides funding for upper-secondary vocational schools and post secondary non-tertiary vocational schools. It is foreseen to pass vocational schools owned by the state to local governments after the regional reform is completed. So far as schools remain owned by the state, they are financed through the responsible ministries – Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Interior Affairs.
Financial autonomy and control
In Latvia, pre-schools and general education schools are maintained mainly by local governments and local governments control the use of financial resources. These are vocational education schools mainly, which are centrally maintained.
Maintenance and capital needs of municipality owned schools are covered from budget of respective municipality. The Education Law states that a city self-government and a municipality self-government has to allocate self-government budget resources to educational institutions, and control utilisation of these resources. The Law also sets that schools have to be independent in:
- the development and implementation of education programmes,
- selection of employees,
- financial and economic activities, and
- other activities in accordance with the Law.
The Law also defines the autonomy of schools by stating that it is a head of a school who has to be responsible for the operation and performance of the school, as well as for rational use of intellectual, financial and material resources. Also, the head of the school decides independently, within the scope of his or her authority, on the use of the intellectual, financial and material resources of the school, and shall specify remuneration for the employees of the school (which cannot be lower than the work remuneration specified by the Cabinet of Ministers).
In 2007, the State Audit Office found that most of audited schools and pre-primary education institutions (kindergartens) are not the keepers of their own current accounts and have not independent book-keeping. The accountancy of these schools was provided centrally through municipality service and therefore the directors of these schools cannot perform the rights vested on them by the Law. The Audit Office recommendation to the municipalities and to the Ministry of Education was to facilitate the autonomy of schools providing them with an opportunity to be the executors of their budgets. The Ministry of Education and Science will include the issue about economical and financial independence of schools in its work strategy 2013-2017 as a task what has to be solved in cooperation with local governments.
Fees within public education
Fees are not charged in public ECEC settings,however parents have to pay for children’s meals (provided three times per day, which cost ca. EUR 44 per month). Some charges may be made for additional services, for instance, foreign language teaching for children.
Primary and lower-secondary education, as well as general and vocational upper-secondary education in public sector schools is free of charge, there are neither registration nor tuition fees. However, several schools have established support foundations, therefore legal and physical persons, pupils, parents and graduates may donate on an optional basis to the respective school.
Vocational upper-secondary institution may also organize pay groups, usually in two cases: if the offered study programme is not financed by the state, and if demand exceeds supply, that is, the number of people wishing to study in the particular programme exceeds the number of state-financed places. The Ministry of Education and Science and other responsible ministries determine the number of state-financed places in public and private accredited vocational education programmes.
Financial support for lerners' families
Public financial support for families with children appears as family allowances and tax relief.
- Family allowances are awarded to all families with children. The amount of family allowances depends on the number of children and child’s order in the family. Family allowances are paid till a child reaches 15 years of age or maximum 19 years of age, if one still studies in school providing general education and is not married.
- Tax relief is general, independent, and not proportional to family income. This is a non-taxable fixed amount from income for every dependant child up to age 24, if the child till that age studies in a secondary vocational, post-secondary non tertiary or higher education institution. A dependant child is a person receiving education who does not have any income on his/her own (grants and loans there are not understood as income).
Financial support for families of pupils with special education needs
Handicapped children receive disability pension larger than the family allowance. However, not every pupil with special needs is a disabled person, and those without such a status receive ordinary allowances. The amount of invalidity pension depends on the disability group.
Several groups of disabled persons and their companions have the right to use public transportation free of charge.
Special boarding-schools are financed from state budget, covering also meals of learners.
Financial support for learners
In Latvia compulsory education is free of charge, that is, state and municipal primary and lower secondary education institutions may not require a fee for the acquirement of compulsory education programme. Besides, various kinds of transport support for pupils are provided by local municipality, e.g. the possibility to buy a monthly ticket at a discount, or, in rural areas, they can receive reimbursement of 100% of transport costs to and from the school.
Several municipalities grant extraordinary allowance for parents of school children at the beginning of school year for purchase of individual education materials and utensils.
In 2008, the Cabinet of Ministers approved regulations on the allocation and use of state budget funds for catering of pupils at primary and lower secondary education institutions which foresee free lunches to all first year pupils in Latvia. From January 2013, free lunch is ensured to all second year pupils, from September 2014 third year pupils and from September 2015 - fourth year pupils.
For several groups of children meals at school are provided for free, like those from large families, low income families as well as for orphans.These measures depend on the respective municipality and its finacial opportunities, hence, there are a couple municipalities which offer free lunch for all pupils learning in certain grades.
Another form of support are the EU co-financed programmes „School Fruit Scheme” and „European School Milk Scheme”. These schemes provide children with fruit, vegetables and dairy products and promote good eating and healthy living habits. In the framework of „European School Milk Scheme” pupils can daily receive dairy products, and in the framework of „School Fruit Scheme” pupils can receive free fruit and vegetables or the sum of both three times per week. In addition, schools organize various educational activities about healthy nutrition.
In regard to the „School Fruit Scheme”, the school participation rate has grown from 63% in 2010 till 91% of schools in year 2012/13 similarly, the number of educational institutions participating in the „European School milk Scheme” has almost doubled from 456 (2010/11) till 822 (in 2012/13).
Some support measures are offered for learners in vocational education and training:
- Every full-time pupil in a state or municipal vocational education institution profesionālās izglītības iestāde, receives a monthly scholarship together with partial compensation of transportation costs from the state budget. Monthly scholarship may not be smaller than family allowance. In some cases, an educational institution may also allocate an increased or extraordinary scholarship, which does not exceed a quintuple amount of the minimum monthly scholarship.
- The Ministry of Education and Science implements the EU Structural Fund project that aims to enhance attractiveness of initial vocational education by offering a monthly scholarship to students of public and private initial vocational schools. The ESF scholarships are granted on a monthly basis by assessing student's learning achievements, attendance and participation in extra curricular activities of the respective vocational education institutions. The amount of the scholarship granted to first-year student varies from EUR 14,23 - 28,46 per month, and for the second to fourth-year students - from EUR 28,46 – 71,14 per month.
- Grants are also ensured for those acquiring short vocational training programmes (1 – 1.5 years) which were introduced in the framework of the ESF project “Acquisition of vocational education and training programmes, skills and competencies for continuation of education and training” . The amount available for students varies between EUR 70-115 per month depending on students’ performance.
- Pupils may live in dormitories.
- Acquirement of vocational education and professional qualification is covered from the state budget for children with special needs (if they are in special education or social or pedagogical correction institution) and convicts (if they are in prison).
The founders of private education institutions provide financing for them. Private education institutions are free to set tuition fees.
In October 2008 the Ministry of Education and Science had prepared draft amendments to the Education Law prescribing that private pre-school education institutions providing compulsory education for 5 and 6-year-old children shall receive state budget funds.
Accredited private schools providing compulsory education may receive funds from the state. This budget covers costs of teaching staff salaries. Private schools may sign an agreement with local authorities and receive financial means according to the determined costs for one pupil. These costs are determined centrally by the Cabinet of Ministers. Private vocational lower-secondary schools may sign an agreement with the competent ministry about preparing specialists in a definite professional area. In this case institutions receive budget for this aim from the state.