Education system of Latvia in context of life-long learning.


Basic facts about the Republic of Latvia:

 Location - Northeast Europe, eastern coast of the Baltic Sea
Area - 64 589 km 2
 Population - 2,35 million in 2002 (urban-68%, rural-32%)
 Capital - Riga, 747 000 residents in 2002
 Ethnic composition - 57,6% Latvian, 29.6% Russian, 4.1% Byelorussian, 2.7% Ukrainian, 2,5% Polish, 1,4% Lithuanian, 2,1% other nationalities
 Main religions - Lutheran Protestant, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox.
 Official language - Latvian (the Baltic language group of the Indo-European languages)
 Currency - Lats (LVL). 1 Lats consists of 100 santims.


Lifelong learning.

Formal education   

Non-formal education 

In-formal education 

Components of Lifelong learning are general, professional, academic and adult education.  Direct form of socio-culture education for the whole life.

Components of Lifelong learning are general, professional, academic and adult education.  Direct form of socio-culture education for the whole life.  


Student statistics.

A sharp increase of student number over the last years brought total enrolment in academic year 2006/2007 up to 110,500 students. The most popular fields are social sciences 51% of student population, teacher training 16 % and engineering 10%. Humanities attracted and natural sciences each have 7% of students, services 3%, health care 4%, agriculture 2%. 12395 students (11.2%) studied in Master degree programmes and 1301 students (1.2%) in doctoral programmes.


Adult education.

Adult education includes all types of formal, non-formal and informal education including further and interest education, professional upgrading and in-service training. It is provided to satisfy needs in lifelong education process to support personal development and competitiveness in the labour market regardless of person’s age and previous education.
Local government organizations and nongovernmental organizations mainly locally support persons willing to obtain new knowledge and skills.


Socio-cultural Resources Available in Latvia.

In the National strategic plan for Latvia 2008, it was stated that Latvian society has experienced cultural diversity for many centuries. Various nations and cultures had left their traces and cultural heritage in Latvia. Since regaining independence in 1990 the Republic of Latvia has resumed its way towards European values of recognizing cultural diversity within a dynamic national state.

Various processes and events of recent history have had impact on ethnic structure of the society, which consists of up to 41% of representatives of more than 150 cultures of ethnic minorities .  Looking through the migration indicators of 2009th when in average 322,000 persons per months immigrated and in average 532,000 persons per month emigrated thus making a migration balance in average minus 220,000  per month, proves real necessity of intercultural and socio-cultural education. The numbers show that quite a big percentage of the citizens leaves the country however rather significant number of immigrants annually come to Latvia. The more detailed research done by the centre PROVIDUS on issue how do the immigrants feel in Latvia you can find on the website However, the present situation in Latvia shows clearly a contradiction between existing cultural diversity and the lack of its representation at all levels of public spheres like politics, media, curriculum, activities of NGOs of various cultural groups, consumer society, labour market etc. This situation causes intolerance and in long-terms it may facilitate negative consequences in economical development, social security and decrease prosperity level of the society.

The conjoint aim of the social culture is integration of minorities in the community, that is planned as the “homogeneous society” (MOES, 2001), ensuring equal opportunities for minority representatives to join in social life together with ethnic countrymen at the same time retaining essentially different national and cultural identity.

In Latvia the intercultural dialogue and socio-cultural education at the same time is implemented mainly by state institutions (local Municipalities, Secretariat, Society Integration Fund, Ministry of Education and Science, etc) and NGOs like Soros Fund- Latvia, Centre PROVIDUS, minority NGOs.

In the basic level of educational system in Latvia the socio-cultural programmes are implemented through the comprehensive schools as for the native inhabitants as well for minorities. Very popular in Latvia like in the other European countries is the bilingual education. The general aim of bilingual education can be either language preservation or its refinement or conversion to the other language (Fishman, 1976).

In the educational system of Latvia not contravening the statements of the Education Standard, in the primary and secondary level some subject are divided as following: a) history of Latvia; b) history of the ethnic Fatherland; c) history of the world; d) a course “I in my Homeland” thus promoting not only integration in Latvian society and getting acquainted with the national culture, but also including the multi-cultural component.

Nowadays socio-cultural situation defines necessity to introduce the principle of multiculturalism in the state education and upbringing system. The integrative blocks in the education system are “Language and Culture”, “Social Studies”, “Art”, “Foreign Languages” forming appropriate kernel of multi-cultural education with the aim not to increase the knowledge amount, but to form determined characteristics of the multi-cultural personality.

Besides, in the primary and secondary level students learning foreign languages are introduced in the culture of the taught language (English, Russian, German, etc). Especially English and German language teaching course books are rich in texts and pictures on different national festivals, national writers and poets, history, geography, heroes and celebrities, etc.

Language learning has a significant role in the person’s individual development. One of the action directions of basic regulations of Education Development of Latvia for 2007 – 2013 is to increase motivation to learn foreign languages supporting school-children’s mobility. Learning foreign languages the competency approach is used: communicative competence, language competence and socio-cultural competence. Socio-cultural competence has an essential importance in language learning process. Discovering the different and comparing it with the known the deeper understanding about oneself grows out up, tolerance is improved and it becomes easier to accept varied and different.

In the higher educational system also some parts of the socio-cultural educational programmes are integrated in the curriculum.  For example in the University of Latvia where many humanitarian programmes are realized in the Faculty of Social Science, subjects like social psychology, classical sociology, etc. are taught. Basic study programmes (Batchelor’s and professional) as well as academic like Master’s, Doctor’s are offered to the students too.

University of Agriculture of Latvia in Faculty of Social Sciences offers some programmes which are mainly oriented to cultural processes happened in Latvia. Looking through the 4-years’ programme of tutorials a very little attention is paid to the intercultural communications. About integration of different cultures and mutual interaction processes students study within the theory of general sociology discovering different research methods which can be used analysing how successful of less successful this integration and mutual interaction is carried out. Some other programmes study state studies and politics in the contemporary world. In the State Studies the greatest attention is paid to the UK and the USA and the subject Politics in the Contemporary World discuss the current events in the world at that moment.

Some municipality institutions engaged in further education or lifelong learning provision on local level offer programmes of different thematic fields. Consequently Riga City Council Education Development Department of the Education Board offers the licensed programme (36 hours) accepted by the Ministry of Education and Science of Latvia „Content of the Socio-Cultural Competence in Latvian Language Teaching Process on the Primary Level”. The tutor (A.Vulane) emphasizes significance of this course in formation of pupils’ socio-cultural competency and skills offering different lingua-cultural tasks. However, such courses are available very infrequently and also mainly in the big cities.

Socio-cultural education for adults in meaning like becoming acquainted with other nationalities thus learning tolerance and being open-minded is accessible mainly through projects ensured by different EU funds. Summarizing all the mentioned above and studying facts available we can conclude that socio-cultural phenomena is rather new and undiscovered area for many adult education institutions and organizations in Latvia. A very little range of socio-cultural education programmes for adults are available both in the local and state level. For the IT users some websites offer materials of the intercultural thematic, like Latvian Institute has prepared presentations about the country as well as thematic descriptions with the visual material, for instance traditions, history, cuisine, etc. ( ). However, older generation (above 45) having neither IT skills nor computer or the Internet access at home – especially on the country-side, is not able to obtain socio-cultural knowledge and skills.


Indirect socio-cultural learning.

Not only educational institutions educate people socially and culturally. There are many other things where people learn and develop their socio-cultural skills. The main place where Latvian people gain their socio-cultural knowledge is environment – starting with family, neighbours, and people around and finishing with mass media.

The main socio-cultural cradle for Latvians is family. There are many families where grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren keep their cultural traditions in a very Latvian style. For example there are Latvian folk groups where two or three generations take part. There are many Latvian families that celebrate all Latvian traditions like our ancestors did. These people are different in social and cultural context. People who are not so close to old traditions gladly accept traditions from other countries, for example, Valentine’s Day, Halloween etc. Communication with these two parts of inhabitants is slightly different. The members of the first group are all in all Latvians, they know culture, traditions and try to preserve that.

Neighbours are very essential in communication and cultural development in the countryside. If one travels to a small village far from towns or cities it is clearly seen that all people in this village speak alike, act alike and they live like they have their own world – even the style of clothes and dwelling layout is very similar. These people generally are satisfied with their lives because they are like one big family.

Moreover, people living in towns or cities are completely different. Their opinion of culture is more sophisticated and they are not satisfied with common briefings. They tend to find something new and modern. There are many cultural activities made in the capital. The reason of these cultural activities is to show people old Latvian traditions, social background. People attend these activities a lot because we need our culture and we need socializing with each other in Latvian atmosphere.


A  Unique Socio-Cultural Tradition – Latvian Song and Dance Festival.

One more example of an indirect socio-culture education opportunity that is not just a festival – its tradition goes back for 135 years and in 2003 it was recorded in the UNESCO list of Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage. Attendees are certain to experience Latvia as the Land That Sings. Every spring all Latvian dance groups and choirs take part in displays involving more than 15 000 dancers and around 13 000 singers, demonstrating to the jury from the compulsory repertoire as well as freely chosen ones. The celebration is preparing 5 years.
The XXIV Nationwide Latvian Song and XIV Dance Celebration took place in Riga from July 5-12, 2008.
 In 8 days 39 different concerts and events took place, half of which were free of charge.
Last year the following participated:
Record number of participants - 38 601;
394 choirs and 54 vocal ensembles (including ensembles from minority communities), total of 18 464 singers (in comparison – 212 female singers and 791 male singers took part in the 1st Song Celebration in 1873);
544 dance groups, 13 700 dancers;
55 brass bands;
5 professional orchestras;
As part of the Celebration events 913 master craftspeople from 103 traditional applied arts studios exhibited 2942 pieces of traditional applied art , 120 kokles (national instrument)  were played together at the Large Guild and for the first time, the kokle ensemble composed of boys performed; The Closing Concert saw the largest number of bag-pipe players to date in Latvia – 26
 940 representatives from Riga and Latvia’s regional minority groups take a part. In total 55 creative groups participated, representing 15 ethnic groups. Local groups were joined by about 600 participants from 19 other countries (choirs, orchestras, dance groups) – Germany, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, Sicily, Italy, Austria, Netherlands, Rumania.
Participants from regions travelled to Riga by 973 buses.

At the opening Concert, choir groups from all generations were represented – from children to senior citizens.
In 2008 was the largest number of participants and longest Celebration procession than lasted 7 hours. After the closing Concert communal singing was organized, which lasted up until 6:00 in the morning. In festival week all participant are living in Riga. They are keeping close contact between each other. It is a real socio-cultural school for different ages, minorities and interested in people from different regions of Latvia and from different countries too.  

Coordinator and author of project idea is

Persona Optima Iceland EFH.
This company as an organization is a new in international project arena. This project is perfect opportunity to share our findings with partners and related units of the project; we are establishing relationships with partners from other countries, expanding our knowledge and sharing our own findings with others. Read more...

Reached results, findings

Experience sharing report

Socio - cultural environment report
Denmark • Latvia • Lithuania • Iceland • NorwaySweden
Focus group research
Latvia 1
Latvia 2 Latvia 3 Iceland Lithuania
Norway Denmark

Partner meetings

Partner meeting in Iceland

Partners of the project



WISE wide incorporation of socio-cultural education of adults from Nordic-Baltic peripheral areas. Creation of methodology.
This project is partially funded by the program of funds.
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