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EACEA National Policies Platform


6. Education and Training

6.1 General context

Last update: 28 November 2023
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  1. Main trends in young people's participation in education and training
  2. Organisation of the education and training system
  3. Main concepts

Main trends in young people's participation in education and training

In general, young people are positive about their education. An overwhelming majority (75%) believes that their educational experience is suitable for entry into the labor market. Only 17% of young people are critical of their education. The suitability of work for the education they received is clearly more positive
The market is valued by those who have completed higher education, while the more critical are those who have only completed secondary education.

Two thirds of young people are valued to acquire good education as a very important value. Among young people, good education is much more valuable than being able to hold a good job (59%), earning a lot of money (53%) or a prestigious occupation (50%). This leads to the conclusion that the value of education has generally not decreased and may have even increased. Of particular importance, young people appreciate the skills of working with computers (55%) and knowledge of the latest technologies (40%). At the same time, the attitude of young people towards foreign language learning should be negatively assessed: only about one in three young people (38%) consider a number of foreign languages to be of very high value.

Organisation of the education and training system

The Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for education, science, sports, youth and state language policies in Latvia. 

The Latvian education system consists of pre-school education, basic education, secondary education and higher education. General education in Latvia in total lasts 12 years consisting of compulsory 9-years basic education and 3-years secondary education. Additionally pre-school education at age of 5-6 is compulsory in Latvia.

Basic education stage comprises general basic education (grades 1-9) and vocational basic education. Secondary education stage comprises general secondary education, vocational secondary education and vocational education. Higher education comprises both academic and professional study programmes.


Erasmus+: Youth in Action programme is a European Union programme, which enables young people aged 13 to 30, youth employees and other persons involved in work with youths, in cooperation with foreign partners, to obtain new competences and experience creating and implementing projects themselves. Projects of the Erasmus+: Youth in Action programme are mainly implemented using non-formal education methods. Erasmus+ programme is implemented from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2020 with the total budget of 14.7 billion euro, of which about 10% (1.4 billion euro) are available to the youth sector.

From 2011 to 2017, the Latvian and Swiss cooperation programme Support for the Development of Youth Initiatives in Peripheral or Disadvantaged Regions was implemented in Latvia, the supreme objective of which was to reduce social inequality and differences between developed and disadvantaged regions. A study on the impact of the activities implemented within the programme on local community was performed in 2016/2017. The study concluded that youths visiting a youth centre are more active both in the fulfilment of their initiatives and in cooperation with local governments, these youths get involved in councils and self-governance bodies of school students. Moreover, youth centres benefit not only youths, but also the local community. Therefore, the programme has promoted social inclusion of youths from disadvantaged regions. 

eTwinning is a European school cooperation network, the purpose of which is to promote cooperation between educational institutions using information and communication technologies (ICT). eTwinning is an Erasmus+ activity within the European Union programme in the field of education, training, youth and sport, which is implemented from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2020, using a project as a method in the training and rearing process and promoting further education of teachers in the field of ITC and languages.

Source: Agency for International Programs for Youth

According to the data of the Central Statistical Bureau (CSB) the share of early school leavers aged 18–24 (having no secondary education or not continuing education) in Latvia is 10%. A distinct territorial and gender disproportion was observed in 2016: 15.5% of  ESL in rural areas (6.8% in cities); 13.7% of man (6.2% – women).

The results of OECD PISA 2012 survey evidence that 22% of Latvian pupils have not attended school at least one school day over the last two weeks (questionnaire of pupils) (15% on average in OECD countries). Furthermore, the results of the study by the Latvian Facts Market and Opinion Research Agency in 2014 evidence that 20% of 15, 16 years old youths do not attend school “striking”, and the study of 2014 of the State Service of Education Quality “Non-attendance of pupils of general educational institutions and actions to prevent it” showed that 22% of pupils of forms 6, 9, 11 did not attend classes ≥ 1 class per week without any justification (pupil survey).

Several studies were conducted to study reasons and potential solutions of ESL:

1) Identification and analysis of new challenges and solutions that have influence on engagement and reintegration of early school-leavers (18-24 aged) in lifelong learning

2) Research of the Baltic Institute of Social Sciences of 2014 on reasons for and risks of early school leaving among youths aged 13 to 18

3) Research of SIA Aptauju Centrs and SIA Excolo Latvia of 2015 on the creation of alternative policies in solving the early school leaving issue.

The following conclusions were made in the study: main causes of ESL are:

  • difficulties and lack of motivation in mastering disciplines;

  • unfavourable social environment, health problems;

  • adverse economic conditions;

  • bad relationship with teachers and/or schoolmates;

  • lack of parental involvement.


It was concluded in the studies that the most essential ESL risk factors are:

  • regular absence from classes;

  • average / low learning achievements;

  • socioeconomic conditions.

The results of OECD PISA 2012 survey also evidence that the socioeconomic situation of pupils has effect on learning results.

Source: State Education Quality Service

Main concepts

The aim of the pre-school education programme is to promote the development of human and responsible individual personality, to encourage the formation of inquisitiveness towards individuals, environment and society and its diversity and unity. Pre-school education programmes are acquired by children from the age of 2 up to the age of 7. Preparation of five and six-year-old children for the acquisition of basic education is compulsory.

The basic education programme is acquired in grades 1-9. The acquisition of the basic education is compulsory. Partial acquisition of basic education is implemented in primary schools.

General secondary education programmes are implemented in secondary schools, gymnasiums, evening (shift) and extramural secondary schools. The study year consists of 35 weeks in general secondary education institutions. There are four profiles of the general secondary education programmes for grades 10-12 (General education, Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technics, the Humanities and Social Sciences and professionally-oriented profile). Upon completion the mandatory demands of general secondary education students receive a certificate on general secondary education thus entitling the graduate to continue studies in any higher educational establish mentor college.

The policy of inclusive education in Latvia helps every pupil, regardless of the school type or educational programme chosen, in preserving their ethnic identity and origin, in perfecting and developing their language and culture, and in treating the cultures, traditions and languages of other nationalities with respect.

The higher pedagogical education and corresponding professional qualification is mandatory for teachers working in any general secondary education institution.

Vocational education

Vocational education ensures practical and theoretical preparation for work in a particular profession, allows obtaining professional qualification and ensures further professional development.

 Upon completion of basic education programme one can acquire vocational education in:

  • vocational basic education programmes — students study 3 years and acquire a partial vocational secondary education only and professional qualification of the 2"“ level. Upon completion of vocational basic education programme young people can start working as well as continue their studies to acquire the general secondary education;

  • vocational secondary education programmes — students study 4 years and acquire vocational secondary education and professional qualification of the 3"’ level. Upon completion of vocational secondary education programme young people can start working or continue their studies in higher educational institutions.

Several vocational institutions offer young people to acquire professional qualification after graduating the secondary school and qualification can be acquired in 1-yearor2-year long vocational education programmes.

The characteristic feature of vocational education is specialization in the particular professional area in order to acquire the corresponding profession. Therefore in vocational education institutions there are students from different counties of Latvia, and vocational education institutions offer their students possibility to live in hostels.

In order to ensure the conformity of vocational education to the needs of labour market the collaboration among vocational education institutions and the employers has been initiated and as a result, the possibilities for professional practice are guaranteed and common educational programmes are developed.

Higher education

There are three levels of higher education programmes in Latvia — Bachelor, Master and Doctor. Universities and colleges implement academic and professional higher education programmes as well as scientific activities, research and artistic creativeness. Colleges provide first level professional higher education programmes. Colleges can act as colleges established by higher education establishments or as independent educational establishments.

Academic higher education programmes are based upon fundamental and applied science. The aim of the academic education is to secure the acquisition of theoretical background and skills for scientific research gradually preparing for independent scientific research in the chosen scientific branch or sub-branch. The State Academic Higher Education Standard determines the education content and scope of academic higher education. Passing exams and the development of Bachelor's or Master's Paper are an integral part of the academic higher education. Upon successful completion of academic study programme students receive the degree of Bachelor or the Master's degree.

Professional higher education programmes are based upon fundamental and applied science that ensures opportunities to prepare for professional activities. The State first level professional higher education Standard and the State second level professional higher education Standard determine the content and scope of professional higher education. Passing state exams is an integral part of professional higher education programme. Upon completion of second level professional higher education programmes students receive the degree of professional Bachelor or the professional Master's degree and the corresponding professional qualification.

Bachelor's degree is awarded to the group of related branches of science. In Latvia students can receive the following Bachelor's degree: Bachelor of Science in Education, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor's degree in Social Sciences, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Engineering degree, Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, Bachelor's degree in Health Sciences, Bachelor's degree in Environmental Sciences.

Master's degree or its equivalent for completing higher education programme is required for admission to doctoral studies. Doctoral studies include advance studies of the subject in the relevant study programme and a scientific research and creative skills development. Doctoral thesis is an integral part of the Doctoral study programme to receive the Doctor's degree. Promotion Council awards Doctor's Degree after public defence of doctoral thesis. Doctor's degree certifies scientific qualification.