European, global and intercultural dimension in curriculum development
According to the Regulations Regarding the State Basic Education Standard and Model Basic Education Programmes (2018), one of the tasks of education programmes of integrated primary and lower-secondary education level is to
"develop understanding of Latvian, European and world cultural heritage".
Direct reference to global dimension is made in several subjects of compulsory education: social sciences and history, history of Latvia and world history, visual art, music, geography. Naturally, intercultural dimension is incorporated into teaching of foreign languages.
In the classes of social sciences pupils are informed on EU institutions, the European Council and EU currency. Besides, also the development of EU and its institutions as well as its symbols are discussed. Pupils have to understand the basic principles of international relations (such as sovereignty, treaties and non-intervention); the largest international organizations (UN, NATO, EU, OSCE, Council of Europe) and their functions.
At the end of the course in social sciences, pupils should be able to:
- describe ways and situations when cultural differences and different traditions encourage and impede the understanding among nations and their representatives;
- describe the reasons for conflicts and co-operation between nations (such as territorial issues, resources, division of labour, integration);
- describe global problems and international ways to solve them (such as environmental issues, illnesses, unequal distribution of natural resources, economical development and security);
- analyse what are the gains for Latvia of participation in NATO, EU, OSCE and Council of Europe;
- describe and name international non-governmental organizations and their value.
The subject of history discusses the history of the 20th century, including European integration. Pupils have to be able to name the core international organizations, understand regional (i.e. European) and global integration as well as global issues and problems. The historical aspects of Latvia's integration in European Union are also discussed.
According to the Regulations Regarding the State General Secondary Education Standard and Model General Secondary Education Programmes (2019), the aims to be achieved during this level of schooling include
"to get students acquainted with the world's cultural heritage" and "to promote the understanding of political direction of Latvia and human rights in the context of Europe and the world".
The European and global dimension on upper-secondary education level is achieved discussing several subjects, including politics and rights, history, geography, basics of economics and other. A specific attention in politics and rights is paid to the theme of Latvia in international politics. Students have to be aware of international relations, the main trends of Latvian foreign policy, and the integration of Latvia into international organizations. They have to be able to support their opinion for Latvia's integration in the EU and NATO as well as understand the motives behind Latvia's integration into the EU, NATO and other international organizations.
European dimension is also touched upon in subjects like basics of economics, where the EU budget is compared to that of Latvia and pupils get acquainted with the notion of common currency euro, geography where pupils have to understand the geopolitics of European countries, history of culture where the history of art and culture in Europe is discussed, and Literature where pupils learn about European literature.
Schools regularly celebrate Europe day on 9 May each year. The Europe quiz, which has become a spring tradition, every May invites students to try to answer short and interesting questions about the European Union, cultural diversity, history, geography and languages. Teachers often use informative materials (guides, information packs etc) on Europe and EU provided by governmental and non-governmental organizations such as ESMāja(the EU House), European Movement in Latvia, Club Māja - Youth for United Europe and others. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been in charge of the EU communication since 1 January 2010. The Ministry informs society, promotes discussions on the EU and Latvia’s membership in it, coordinates communication activities of the line ministries and involves other EU communicators in the activities.
Partnerships and networks
Schools as learning organizations
One of the most important contributions of the global dimension is learning from examples of good practice in other countries. For example, in 2022, the Ministry of Education and Science, in cooperation with experts from the Economic Cooperation and Development Organization (OECD) and researchers from the University of Latvia, launched a research project on schools as learning organizations in order to use this principle in school practice. In addition to the analysis of educational policy planning documents, the research team has made a comparison of international best practices in the implementation of this approach and model in both European Union and OECD member countries.
Examples of good practice include the School as a Learning Organization model in Wales (Great Britain) and the School Excellence Model (Singapore). The Singapore model was created in 2000 to transform schools into learning organizations. The conceptual framework of the model is formed by the national vision Thinking Schools, Learning Nation developed in 1997. In this case, the model is used to implement school self-evaluation and external evaluation. It evaluates two categories - implementers (50%) and results (50%). The first of them allows to evaluate the cultural, process and resource components of the proposed provision for achieving the results. On the other hand, the second category shows the school's real achievements and potential development opportunities in the future.
In order to gain a broader vision of international practices, and their possible implementation in the education system of Latvia, in addition to the model and approach of Wales and Singapore, LU analysts are also evaluating countries that are in the process of transformation or have already completed this process, such as Portugal, Denmark, Greece and Finland.
Sustainability education for the Baltic Sea region
Many schools of Latvia participate in UNESCO Associated School programme’s project “Baltic Sea Project”. This is probably the world’s longest running multi-country school project in support of both environmental education and inter-cultural learning. Since 1989, 300 Associated Schools in nine countries around the Baltic Sea, have taken part in the flagship Baltic Sea Project to combine environmental education with intercultural learning. The project served as a concrete contribution to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). This project, thanks to its longevity, has facilitated the publication and systematic exchange of pedagogical materials, experience and theory and the dissemination of good practices. Training seminars are regularly organized for teachers, as well as summer courses and forums for students.
There are several Erasmus+ international partnership projects related to entrepreneurship education with direct EU funding, for example, Social entrepreneurship development in Baltic Sea region, Erasmus for young entrepreneurs and Student innovation labs – a way to sustainable and socially responsible growth.