Within the framework of education system different types adult formal education (general, vocational and tertiary) on integrated primary and lower secondary (pamatizglītība), upper secondary (vidējā izglītība) and higher education levels are usually linked to the existing infrastructure of education institutions.
Basic (single structure primary and lower secondary) education and upper secondary education
Adults in Latvia have a legal entitlement to complete previously commenced formal education at basic education level (ISCED 1 and 2) (pamatizglītība) and secondary education level (ISCED 3) (vidējā izglītība). General education for unqualified young people/adults is provided in evening schools (vakara vidusskola) and classes offering integrated general education programmes for persons who have not finished schooling and want to continue their education after having dropped out of formal education system. In the beginning of school year 2014/2015 there were 28 general education evening schools in Latvia providing second-chance education for all age groups. Second-chance education programmes are an established tradition in Latvia. The programmes are accredited and/or licensed according to legal requirements. A successful completion of an education programme is confirmed by a certificate. The quality of education programmes is monitored by the State Service of Education Quality.
There are no admission requirements to basic education. When admitting students to upper secondary education, schools are free to hold entrance examinations according to the basic education standard, except in subjects that the applicant has already covered in the specific basic education programme and listed in the certificate of basic education presented in application process.
Although programmes in evening schools for adults result in the same outcomes in general education schools, there is no obligation to attend all subject lessons, such as arts and sports.
Students, who have received evaluation of their subject knowledge according to basic education curriculum, national tests and examinations, receive a Certificate of Basic Education (apliecība par pamatizglītību) and a statement of records (sekmju izraksts) that qualify them and serve as a screening criterion for admission to further education and training in upper-secondary level education programmes. In case a student has not received evaluation in a subject, or centralized national tests and examinations, he/she receives a school report (liecība) giving the right to continue education and training in basic vocational education programmes.
A certificate of upper secondary education (atestāts par vispārējo vidējo izglītību) is awarded to all students who have received a positive assessment in all subjects according to the chosen profile and the national examinations and a certificate of the passed centralized exams and their scores, giving access to education in a higher education programme. If the student has not received an evaluation in one or more subjects or a national examination, he/she receives a school report (liecība).
Regulations No 149 On the procedure for the enrolment and exclusion from a general educational institution, and the requirements to be moved to the following education level passed by the Cabinet of Ministers 28 February 2012 foster the continuation of general education by adults.
Premises of general schools are often used for adult non-formal education by an agreement between school administration and local authorities.
Providers in vocational education
After completion of vocational education a person is practically and theoretically prepared to work in a particular profession. Vocational education is offered to young people/adults in 18 vocational education competence centres (ref. year 2014/2015) and the following educational institutions: vocational schools (arodskolas), vocational secondary schools (profesionālā vidusskola) and colleges (koledža). Vocational education can be acquired after completion of basic education (pamatizglītība) (single structure ISCED 1 and 2 levels). For those who have no basic education certificate and older than 15, there is an opportunity to enter vocational schools (arodskola) and acquire a qualification of both vocational and basic general education at the end of schooling.
Students who have passed final subject and qualification examinations in the respective education programme receive one of the following state recognized vocational education documents:
- Certificate of vocational basic education (apliecība par profesionālo pamatizglītību);
- Certificate of vocational education (apliecība par profesionālo izglītību);
- Diploma of vocational upper-secondary education (diploms par profesionālo vidējo izglītību).
Providers in higher education
There are two main ways how adults may participate in education opportunities provided by higher education institutions in Latvia:
- formal studies in short-cycle, Bachelor, Master and Doctoral programmes,
- personal development, in-service training and continuing education programmes offered by higher education institutions in their premises.
There are 34 public institutions and 26 institutions established by legal (private) bodies providing higher education programmes (ref. year 2014/2015). The role of higher education institutions becomes more and more important in offering non-formal education opportunities to adults.
The majority of higher education institutions ensure flexible arrangement of studies as part-time studies or studies in evenings and alternative modes of delivering higher education programmes by distance learning, particularly suitable for adult students combining education with work. Higher education institutions ensure online application procedure to a study programme.
There are lifelong learning centres and career guidance centres in many higher educational institutions in all regions of Latvia (e.g., in the Liepāja University, the Ventspils University College, the Vidzeme University College, the University of Agriculture of Latvia). Distance learning or blended learning facilities are offered for part-time students, for instance in the University of Latvia and the University of Agriculture of Latvia. Some of the tasks of lifelong learning centres in universities are, for instance:
- education activities (continuing education programmes, especially distance-learning and module based programmes, conferences, seminars);
- methodological activities;
- building local and international partnerships to promote lifelong learning;
- providing continuing professional development and training for adult teachers and trainers.
Usually, higher education institutions offer teacher CPD programmes, foreign language courses, Latvian language courses for ethnic minorities, computer classes for adults and courses for the unemployed and job-seekers.
Higher education institutions offer also an opportunity to attend regular study courses granting a certificate after their successful completion. The only access requirement for an adult is to have a completed upper secondary education. This is a fee service and adults have to pay for a study course and final examinations.
Providers in other types of education
The Latvian Adult Education Association has created co-operation network of adult education providers from towns and districts of Latvia uniting 62 institutions.
Folk schools are operating mostly in rural regions with the goal of providing rural residents with a well-rounded education. Folk schools try to continue the traditions established in the period of the first independent Republic, i.e. in the area of civic education (Latvian folk schools' traditions were extensive even in exile).
According to the Education Law (Article 46) all state and municipal education institutions registered in the State Education Register have the right to develop and implement adult non-formal education programmes. In order to reduce the administrative burden on private education institutions and to ensure equal opportunity in the implementation of non-formal adult education, amendments were made to the Education Law in March 2010 providing for the right of private education institutions to implement non-formal adult education programmes without being required to obtain a license issued by the State Service of Education Quality. Nevertheless, private education companies and freelance individuals must receive a local government’s licence for implementing such programmes.
Local governments have an important role in adult non-formal education provision. Municipalities have established public adult education institutions (adult education centres, cultural clubs, associations etc.) in their towns and rural municipalities to provide education opportunities for adults (e.g., Zemgale Region Human Resource and Competences Development Centre).
Moreover, various adult education programmes are offered by professional associations, e.g., the Latvian Chamber of Crafts, the Latvian Union of Physicians, and folk schools and other institutions providing liberal education.
Functions of adult education at a much broader scale are implemented by large state-owned and private companies. In-service training for business or sectoral needs is organized at company training centres, e.g., the Bank of Latvia, telecommunication companies LMT and Lattelecom, Latvian Railway.
Adult education is provided through formal and non-formal education settings. Information about formal and non-formal educational provision has been compiled in the National Database of Learning Opportunities.