Adult Education in Latvia

Sarmite Pilate

Latvia is geographically central country of the Baltic States with a rich adult education history. Adult education is a multifarious process ensuring the development of personality and capacity to compete in the labour market during lifetime. It is a part of the lifelong learning process determined by social and economical needs of the state. Many possibilities through the formal and non-formal learning for participation in lifelong learning have been ensured for adults’ in Latvia.

Policy and Legislation
Lifelong learning policy is based on the strategy (Guidelines for Education Policy for 2014–2020) with the idea that individuals acquire competencies for personal growth, self-development and integration into the labour market at every life stage, thus creating preconditions for the development of inhabitants initiative, adaptation abilities and reaching the social integration, employment, and active civil participation.

The Education strategy has been developed on the basis of national development policy documents such as Latvian National Development Plan 2014-2020 and takes into account economic and demographic challenges.

Based on the strategy national legislation includes adult learning aspects in the following acts:

  • Education Law (1998);

(1) 17’ Adult education definition (2007)
(46) Adult education programmes (2008)
(14) 34. Support for employers to educate employees (2014)
(59.6) States and Local governments support for adult education programmes (2014)

  • General Education Law (1999);
  • Professional Education Law (1999);
  • Law of Higher Education Institutions (1995)

Future trends/key concerns/directions
The main challenge in the present day situation of adult education is an increase of the participation rate in adult learning. Education and Training 2020 programme sets the aim for participation of adults in lifelong learning of 15% of the age group 25-64. According to the Eurostat data Latvia has achieved 6.5% participation rate in 2013 whilst EU average was 10.5%.

Revised strategy foresees the following activities in the future:

  • Introduce revised national qualifications framework based on learning outcomes with link to the European Qualifications framework;
  • Implement validation of non-formal and informal learning;
  • Increase the mobility opportunities for learners;
  • Education supply better match to the labour market needs;
  • Provide opportunities for new basic skills acquirement for all;
  • Reduce the number of drop-outs and early school leavers;
  • Enhance the ‘second chance’ education opportunities, especially for the social risk groups.

Structure & Providers 

Structure overview

The main goal of adult learning in Latvia is to provide individuals with the opportunity to obtain or complement one’s learning based on the needs and interests irrespective of age, sex and previous education (up-skill or re-skill).

Nine national ministries[1] along with other stakeholders collaborate in the implementation of lifelong learning strategy. This model of governance is beneficial to ensure that adult learning responds to the needs of various groups of individuals in different sectors and for different reasons. The main funds for adult learning are distributed between Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Welfare.

In Latvia, according to the Education Law the local governments are also responsible for adult non-formal education provision. Local governments had established a network of adult education institutions to provide education service for adults.  However during the economic downturn and recently very limited resources available, local governments may put at risk further development and even existence of local governments’ adult education institutions.

Within the Latvian framework of the formal educational system, adult education extends over the general education (basic and secondary), vocational education, post-secondary education (further vocational training), higher education. There is a wide range of the non-formal adult education possibilities, provided by the state, local government and private education institutions. Informal learning acquired through working and personal life has been valued by providing possibility to its validation (starting 2011). The following forms of education are available: full-time, extramural education; extramural – distance learning (also for general education), self-directed education.

Key Providers/Main institutions/Sources for Adult Education
There are  general education evening schools, the network of  vocational education institutions , higher education institutions (including  colleges), Regional Competence Development Centres and  Adult non-formal education institutions. According to the Education Law education institution is able to provide adult non-formal education programmes without having a licence, but other institutions (e.g. private company) require licence issued by the local authority.

Distance learning or e-learning facilities are offered for students in most universities (e.g. University of Latvia, Latvian University of Agriculture, Riga Technical University) offering a large variety of non-formal and formal education programmes for adult learners, as well as language learning activities.

There are also lifelong learning centres in the regional universities (e.g. Liepāja University,  Ventspils Higher Education Institution) that has put special emphasis on adult education offer broad variety of adult learning courses.

In Latvia, premises of schools are used for adult education by agreement of school administration and local authorities. Besides, various adult education programmes are offered by local municipalities, its adult training centres established by municipalities at regional and local level. These centres with a good learning environment provides courses to wide target group as jobseekers, employees of different institutions, entrepreneurs, school teachers, youth and seniors.

Functions of adult education at a much broader scale cover vocational, in-service training for business or sectoral needs. Large state-owned and private companies have training centres  These centres have regular education programmes for the employees of companies. The specific needs and requirements of individuals are taken care of by a network of private and nongovernmental educational institutions and undertakings that are run on private funding and some of them are profit-oriented .

EAEA members
Latvian Adult Education Association (Latvijas Pieaugušo izglītības apvienība), LAEA, is a non-governmental, non-profit organization, which unites adult education providers in Latvia – both individuals and organizations. The aim of LAEA is to promote development of non-formal adult education and to advice national body for lifelong learning policy, thereby promoting development of a civic, democratic and open society. LAEA is a member of EAEA from 1995.

[1]  The Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Welfare, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Regional Development and Local Government, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Interior