Curriculum, subjects, number of hours
The Ministry of Education and Science develops a sample plan of mandatory and optional subjects, and optimum time allocation for subjects. Education programmes are developed by teachers/institutions implementing it in accordance with the existing regulation and approved by the school head and the founder of the school (a local government in most cases). An education programme reflects its aims and tasks, the content of education and implementation plans according to the Regulations Regarding the State General Secondary Education Standard and Model General Secondary Education Programmes (approved in 2019).
General upper-secondary schools may offer programmes of the following 4 types of education directions:
- general education programmes with no emphasis on any particular subject group;
- humanitarian and social programmes with emphasis on languages and social sciences;
- mathematics, natural sciences and technology;
- vocationally oriented subjects (like music, sport, economics; do not lead to professional qualification).
Eight subjects are compulsory for all general upper-secondary education programmes: Latvian language and literature, first foreign language, second foreign language, mathematics, history, sports, basics of business economics and applied informatics. Each of the educational direction includes group of specific compulsory subjects. About 25% of the total study workload is left to free choice of pupils and the school.
Teaching work is organized in the form of lesson. Maximum learning load per week and the length of a lesson is determined in the General Education Law.
Languages of instruction
There are mainstream general upper-secondary education programmes with Latvian language of instruction. However, some schools provide ethnic minority general upper-secondary programmes – in these programmes together with Latvian language some ethnic minority language (mostly Russian) can be used as instruction language. In these ethnic minority programmes, starting from the school year 2004/2005, the number of subjects for grades 10–12 taught in Latvian was increased from 3 to 5 under the regulation that 60% of all subjects are taught in Latvian and 40% – in an ethnic minority language. However, in March 2018 the Parliament approved the amendments stating that from 2021/2022 all instruction subjects will be taught in Latvian language, except foreign languages and ethnic minority language, literature and culture subjects/modules.
Teaching methods and materials
The teaching methods most frequently used during lessons are the same as those used in integrated primary and lower-secondary education, namely narration; discussion; debate; individual work; group work; exercises; educational excursions; role-plays; heuristic teaching methods; problem situation methods; experiments; and projects.
Regulations Regarding the State General Secondary Education Standard and Model General Secondary Education Programmes (2019) set the curricula for schools providing upper-secondary education. Regulations determine general aims, the key objectives and tasks of general upper-secondary education programs, the minimum content, including the compulsory subjects and standards, as well as student learning assessment principles and procedures and mandatory national tests. Detailed lists of teaching methods to be used in teaching in the particular classes and particular subjects are found in the subject curricula. The teacher may choose a particular methodology, if she/he himself prepares the curriculum of the subject.
Selection of teaching methods is also made with respect to the skills that must be acquired by the pupils.
Parents don't need to purchase textbooks; they only need to purchase individual education materials for personal everyday use of pupils (bags, footwear, writing utensils etc.). The state is responsible for ensuring optimal education standards by funding education literature, methodical guidelines, additional literature and digital and electronic education materials. Municipalities have to provide education materials (textbooks, workbooks) that are necessary for use by the schools, ensuring a modern education environment.
The programme was established in 1990/91, and since then, the number of established Learning Enterprises has gradually risen. By establishing and working in their Learning Enterprise, pupils gain various essential entrepreneurship skills – knowledge of business, sales management, knowledge of financial analysis and planning, teamwork skills, presentation skills and overall experience. Junior Achievement Latvia is one of the biggest entrepreneurship education promoter for schools in Latvia.
Most of JA member schools implement the Mini-company programme as an optional after-school activity, but there are several cases both on primary and secondary education level where Mini-company programme is compulsory and this approach has shown good results for the students’ achievements. JA Latvia has successful long term partnerships with several actors of private sector, municipalities and educational institutions implementing the Mini-company programme in Latvian schools.