Education system and environment
The education system and environment change inevitably and continuously alongside with development processes in the society and national economy. This is not only a natural process of generation change; it causes also changes which are brought to daily life, thinking and value system by globalisation, transnational mobility, exchange of experience, social networks and the wide range of many other current possibilities. The notion of education has acquired a wider meaning; it is no longer the priority of children and youth only, and it is not a certain, secluded environment anymore. Sometimes, it is not even a specified building or audience. Lifelong learning, distance learning, virtual seminars, studies abroad… These and many other possibilities increasingly become a part of our daily vocabulary.
The education that we obtain through any learning process shapes ourselves and our country. Education integrates us into Europe, and it gives us our identity that only we possess. I think that’s why education is a huge responsibility of all those involved in this process. Therefore, the education system, starting from courses which last a few hours up to broader professional or academic studies, has to be well-organised by respecting both the expectations, interests and possibilities of individuals and the need of the national economy for specialists in the specific field and of an appropriate level. It is the task of the State Education Development Agency (SEDA) to help to trace and utilise these possibilities, as well as to bring more stability in this changing world.
The field of activity
SEDA is broad and diverse: the Agency enforces the national policy in implementing the European Union (EU) Structural Funds, lifelong learning, foreign scholarships and cooperation programmes, financial instruments and grant schemes of the European Economic Area Member States in the fields of education, science and research, as well as in professional guidance, by offering advisory support and a broad spectrum of information concerning the education sector development opportunities in Latvia and Europe.
During the 19 years of operation, through improvements, expansion and facing new challenges, the aims of the SEDA have become more and more ambitious. We strive to become a professional, effective, coherent, cooperative and change-oriented model public institution with the following aims:
- the SEDA as a source of expertise and resources for effective planning and implementation of education development initiatives;
- the SEDA as a highly professional environment for management of large amounts of foreign financial resources;
- the SEDA value lies in its professional and development-oriented employees and managers;
- the SEDA customers (beneficiaries) are satisfied customers;
- the SEDA embodying an open and responsive organisation.
Since the establishment of the Agency, its fields of responsibility have continuously grown and developed, and our activities have also become more diverse. This diversity helps us to monitor and assess the invaluable significance of the education system in socio-economic processes.
In 2014, the new EU support programme by European Commission in the field of education, training, youth and sports, Erasmus+, was launched which combines several current EU support programmes (Comenius, Leonardo da Vinci, Grundtvig, Erasmus, Jean Monnet, Mobility sub-programmes, Erasmus Mundus, Tempus) and replaces them. The Programme will last up to 2020.
The fields of support of Erasmus+ Programme are the following:
- Learning Mobility for Individuals;
- Strategic partnerships – Cooperation for Innovation and Exchange of Good Practices;
- Support for Policy Reform.
The SEDA manages decentralised activity projects of Erasmus+ in the school education, professional education, adult education, and higher education sectors.
The growing competitiveness in the labour market, faced by everyone, only raises the expectations from the education system, and no sector development in the long term can be imagined without the labour force of new, qualified professionals. Therefore, it has to be recognised with pleasure that, with the continued implementation of the projects financed by the EU Structural Funds, vocational education which has been undervalued for many years gains one of the most important benefits. EUR 129 million from the European Regional Development Fund will be invested in the development of 11 vocational education institutions – competence centres. During implementation of the projects until 31 August 2015, large-scale renovation or reconstruction of vocational education establishments, buildings, premises, dormitories and infrastructure and construction of new buildings will take place. Vocational education establishments will be adapted to the needs of persons with functional disorders. Schools will acquire teaching aids and technical equipment, and school libraries will be modernised. It is essential that vocational education authorities in all regions receive the support thereby promoting the interest of the youth in acquiring a profession and offering a modern education environment at the place of residence for this purpose. Besides, the modern and cosily-furnished dormitory premises will attract also young people from other regions.
Substantial support from the Structural Funds is provided also to higher education (scholarships for magistrates and doctorates, construction of study buildings) and science (attraction of new scientists, support for research projects).
The professionalism of the SEPA manifests itself not only in project management but also in implementation of 3 projects of the European Union Social Fund:
- Within the framework of the project “Improvement of National Qualification System, Vocational Education Contents and Cooperation among the Bodies Involved in Vocational Education”, the SEDA, in cooperation with the Employers’ Confederation, Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia, National Centre for Education, and State Service of Education Quality, has established 12 sector expert boards. Sector study for the needs of vocational education has been carried out, and development of profession standards for basic professions and of basic requirements for professional qualifications for related professions and specialisations has started. In developing vocational education programmes by using the module approach, restructuring of vocational education content will be ensured;
- Two main activities of the project “Support to Improvement and Implementation of Primary Vocational Education Programme Quality” are implementation of 1 and 1.5- year vocational education programmes for young people after graduation from secondary school, as well as ensuring of acquisition of basic skills and competences for the socially excluded part of the society in places of imprisonment. It is planned that in total, 4 000 young people will obtain a qualification until 2015. By the end of 2013, 170 prisoners had acquired various professional development programmes. 171 prisoners participated in a professional further education programme, of which 103 acquired a qualification;
- The project “Support for Education Research” ensures the participation of Latvia in international education research related to the evaluation of education quality and learning environment: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment); OECD TALIS (Teaching and Learning International Survey); and ASEM Education and Research Hub for Lifelong Learning (ASEM LLL Hub). In 2013, the OECD PISA research ended which was carried out from 2010 till 2013 by using comparable data obtained from 65 countries of the world regarding competences of fifteen-year old students in mathematics, natural sciences, reading and finances, which were studied and analysed in a broad national, education authority, student and his family factor context.
In the National Database of Learning Opportunities, NIID.LV, administered by the SEDA you will find comprehensive information about learning opportunities for young people and adults. Vocational secondary education programmes, higher education study programmes, as well as courses and programmes offered by universities, colleges and adult education authorities are only a part of the information that is available in the database. Any interested person may perform a career selection test and ask questions to an e-consultant.
To keep pace with time, the SEDA has created the World of Professions (profesijupasaule.lv) – a virtual city where young people and their parents may familiarise themselves with the diversity of professions. It is available for use by students, career counsellors and form masters. In profesijupasaule.lv, you can visit 13 houses of 77 different professions, as well as the houses “Become an Entrepreneur” and “Explore the Profession Yourself”. The range of professions is continuously updated.
Our team consists of motivated, highly responsible and knowledgeable professionals with vast experience not only in the field of education but also in areas such as financial and project management, economics, politics, philology, etc. This allows us to effectively perform the functions entrusted to us and support the education and science community in achieving its objectives and ambitions. In our work, we strive to observe the principles of an open organisation and provide the necessary information, advice and support to any interested person. Our approach is pragmatic and creative at the same time. In performing the functions stipulated by laws and regulations, we do not lose our human communication “spark” which we are rather proud of: we meet university principals, students, educational staff, arrange seminars, inform of the latest developments in the SEDA Twitter account, Erasmus profile and Career Week profile (news of the Career Week organised with the support of Euroguidance Programme and recommendations for successful career planning) in the social network “Facebook”, etc. Information about all the Structural Fund projects administered by the SEDA, almost 780 in total, is accessible in one place, the SEDA website – virtual map of Latvia.
We will continue to offer our clients almost the entire spectrum of foreign and national support mechanisms available in Latvia, providing the opportunity to meet many of their development and investment needs through one institution.
Our working motto is: Here is the reality of your ideas!
May our support serve you in realising your ideas!