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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary Education


6.Upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary Education

Last update: 9 January 2024

General upper-secondary education

In Latvia, upper-secondary education is provided in general and vocational branches and on a full-time or part-time basis, so students may choose the most suitable institution for upper-secondary schooling. A student may complete the whole schooling in a single institution, unless he/she decides to change school or is obliged to interrupt learning.

Acquirement of general upper-secondary education vispārējā vidējā izglītība is determined by the Education Law and the General Education Law.

The Regulations Regarding the State General Secondary Education Standard and Model General Secondary Education Programmes (2019), subject programmes and the sample plan of timetable determine the curriculum. These documents determine general aims of schooling, aims of each subject together with the description of subject curriculum and time allocation.

Following regulations prescribe the order of national testing at the end of upper-secondary schooling:

The National Standard for General Upper Secondary Education determines the goals common for all general upper-secondary education curricula:

  • to provide pupils with knowledge and skills enabling them to prepare for further education;
  • to  encourage the development of their personality and of their physical and mental capacities, and to develop their understanding of health as a condition for the quality of life;
  • to encourage the development of positive, critical and socially active attitude, and to develop understanding of rights and obligations of Latvian citizens;
  • to develop the ability to study independently and improve knowledge as well as create motivation for lifelong learning and a purposeful career.

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).

Institutions providing general secondary education programmes are as follows:

  • vidusskola (grades 10-12) – general upper-secondary school
  • ģimnāzija/Valsts ģimnāzija (grades 10-12) – gymnasium/State gymnasium;
  • tālmācības vidusskola (grades 10-12) - distance-learning upper-secondary school. 

These schools usually also provide lower-secondary education programme, that is, last classes of integrated primary and lower-secondary education (classes 7-9) or the whole basic education programme (primary and lower secondary education pamatizglītība).

Vocational upper-secondary education

The Education Law regulates the status of vocational education profesionālā izglītība as well as determines rights and duties of the state, municipal governments, public organizations, professional corporations, private persons, educational institutions, parents and pupils. The Vocational Education Law determines principles of organization, provision and qualification awards of vocational education; tasks, responsibilities of governmental institutions, education institutions, teachers and pupils; ways and means of acquiring vocational education; organization of the content of vocational education; and principles of financing.

Content of vocational upper-secondary education profesionālā vidējā izglītība is regulated through:

The main aims and objectives of vocational and vocational upper-secondary education are as follows:

  • to prepare the  pupil for working in a certain profession, promoting his/her development as an open, responsible and creative personality;
  • to advantage the acquirement of skills and knowledge for gaining the second or third level of professional qualification;
  • to promote a positive attitude towards other people and the state, favour self-confidence and ability to undertake responsibilities of the Latvian citizen;
  • to motivate the pupil for professional development and further education, and provide the possibility to prepare for continuation of education in the level of higher professional education.

Vocational education can be obtained in various types of vocational education institutions. The names of institutions depend on the level of education and the type and characteristics of the programmes offered:
•    profesionālā vidusskola or amatniecības vidusskola - vocational upper-secondary school; completion entitles to continue studies in a higher education institution.
•    profesionālās izglītības kompetences centrs - vocational education institution, which also provides methodical support to other vocational education and  fulfils the functions of examination centre, including recognition of informal education.

In Latvia, the post-secondary non-tertiary education (pēcvidējā izglītība) programmes (ISCED 4) lie between the upper-secondary and tertiary levels of education. Nationally they are qualified as upper-secondary programmes.

With the support of European Union (EU) funds in the amount of more than 10.3 million euros, the creation of modern vocational education and training curriculum will continue, providing students with skills necessary for the labour market. This is foreseen by the regulations of the EU funds program prepared by the Ministry of Education and Science, which were approved by the government in December.  

With the support of EU funds

  • new teaching and methodological tools will be developed, 
  • the learning process based on the working environment (work-based learning) will be improved, 
  • the digital platform of the vocational qualifications system will be created, 
  • cooperation with industries and educational institutions will be strengthened for the improvement of training programmes. 

With the planned support, the training process based on the work environment also will be improved. It will help VET institutions in creating medium and long-term cooperation with companies for the implementation of work-based learning. The project of improving the content and offer of vocational education and training will be implemented by the National Centre for Education in cooperation with the Confederation of Latvian Employers, the Cooperation Council of Agricultural Organizations, the Latvian Free Trade Union, and VET schools that carry out methodological work. The implementation of the project is planned until 2029.