The government provides additional funding for participation in school subject olympiads and science events
With the additional support of the European Union (EU) funds participation, transport, insurance and other costs will be provided for students in subject Olympiads and scientific research competitions at the national and international level in the 2022/2023 school year. This is foreseen by the amendments to the regulations prepared by the Ministry of Education and Science, which were approved by the government in May 2023.
It is planned that the allocated funding will ensure students' participation in the international mathematics and physics olympiads in Japan, the biology olympiad in the United Arab Emirates, the geography olympiad in Indonesia, as well as scientific research work in the GENIUS olympiad in the United States.
During the implementation of the project, a total of 195,379 students and 7,386 teachers were involved in various events for the development of students' talents. During six years, Latvian students have won 20 gold, 72 silver, 147 bronze medals and 56 certificates of appreciation for participation in international subject olympiads and scientific research contests at international events.
The teacher salary model is linked to the organization of the school network
Latvia’s priority is the gradual increase of teachers’ salaries. As of September 1, 2022, the lowest monthly wage rate (for 30 hours work-week) for a teacher is increased again by 8.4%. Also, the increase in the lowest wage rate for preschool teachers is 11.2% (for 40 hours work-week).
Moreover, from September 1, 2022, state funding for teachers' salaries is calculated and transferred to local governments, which will further distribute it to their schools. It is a transition from the previous model "money follows the student". Local governments are entrusted with responsibility to decide within their own territories, their development strategies and funds - what, how big and how busy schools can be developed for the children of their region and how to create an optimal and decent teacher's salary.
Among the important principles of the new model are:
- Solidarity stimulus: additional 2.5% increase, if school network in the municipality has already been optimized;
- If the ratio of the pupils to teacher in the municipality is above the national average, as of 1 September 2022 – additional funding of 2% is transferred to the local government;
- Municipalities have to distribute at least 7% for educational support staff and not more 15% for school administration;
- Increased support for inclusive education, i.e., for education of children with special needs.
Schools will be provided with reusable masks
In order to epidemiologically safely start and continue the full-time education process in the conditions of Covid-19 spread, in the school year 2021/2022 educational institutions need more than 3 million face masks. In August 2021, the government reviewed an information report prepared by the Ministry of Education and Science on the purchase of reusable masks for educational institutions and instructed the Ministry of Defense to purchase the masks. The total required funding for this purpose is more than 4.5 million euro.
In the new school year the process of education at all levels of education will be organized in person, observing the basic principles of Covid-19 infection control - regular information, distance, hygiene and personal health monitoring, face masks. Children under the age of seven and persons with obvious movement disorders or mental health disorders may not use the masks indoors during and outside the educational process. Face masks are also not used by athletes during sports training (lessons), sports lessons during physical activities, as well as in accordance with the specifics of playing musical instruments, vocal art and dance.
Masks are not used in the classroom by 1st-3rd grade students, but they must wear masks in common areas, such as the school corridor. Pupils with an interoperable vaccination or disease certificate may also not use the masks in the classroom. Face masks may not be used by teachers with a valid certificate during or outside the learning process.
Schools will get air quality measuring devices
To improve the quality of the teaching process and reduce the risk of possible infections, schools will be provide with air quality measuring devices. In July, the Government approved an information report prepared by the Ministry of Education and Science. This ministry initiative is an important opportunity not only to improve the well-being of students and teachers in the classroom, but also to reduce the potential risks of Covid-19 and other viral infections. Even after the pandemic, CO2 measuring devices will help provide a safer health education environment.
The air quality meter will report that the CO₂ concentration limit has been reached, which means that the room needs to be ventilated by opening a window or starting the ventilation system. Air quality improvement projects in educational institutions are implemented on the basis of the results of monitoring carried out by the Health Inspectorate and the recommendations of the World Health Organization on optimal air quality indicators in classrooms.
It is planned that more than 3.7 million euros will be allocated for the purchase of air quality measuring devices. With the available funding, it is tentatively planned to provide air quality measuring devices in full to all general and special education institutions established by the state and local governments, as well as vocational education institutions.