Educational System in Latvia

The one tip that you hear expats living in Latvia repeatedly sharing with newcomers is not to buy a home when you first move to Latvia. Rent for a few months or longer so that you have time to find the right neighborhood. Give yourself time to ensure that Latvia is right for you for the long term. If you've already taken time to do those things and are ready to take the plunge and become a property owner, here are tips about buying a home in Latvia.
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Latvia, a small country in the Baltic region, boasts a robust and well-structured educational system that is recognized internationally. The system is divided into several stages, each designed to cater to the specific needs of students at different ages. This guide aims to provide expats with a comprehensive understanding of the Latvian educational system, including the main stages of education, enrollment procedures, language requirements, availability of bilingual and private schools, homeschooling and online schooling options, and the costs associated with private education.

What are the main stages of education in Latvia?

The Latvian educational system is divided into four main stages: pre-school education, basic education, secondary education, and higher education. Pre-school education is for children aged 1.5 to 7 years, basic education covers ages 7 to 16, secondary education is for students aged 16 to 19, and higher education is for those aged 19 and above. Each stage has a specific focus and curriculum designed to meet the developmental needs of students at that age.

Pre-school Education in Latvia

Pre-school education in Latvia is optional and caters to children aged 1.5 to 7 years. It focuses on the child’s overall development, including physical, emotional, and social growth. The curriculum includes activities that promote language development, basic mathematical concepts, and creative expression. Pre-schools in Latvia are either state-funded or private.

Basic Education in Latvia

Basic education in Latvia is compulsory and covers nine years of schooling, typically from ages 7 to 16. It is divided into two stages: primary education (grades 1-4) and lower secondary education (grades 5-9). The curriculum includes subjects like Latvian language, mathematics, science, social studies, music, and physical education. At the end of basic education, students take national examinations to receive a certificate of basic education.

Secondary Education in Latvia

Secondary education in Latvia is optional and typically covers ages 16 to 19. It prepares students for higher education and the labor market. The curriculum includes a mix of compulsory and elective subjects. At the end of secondary education, students take national examinations to receive a certificate of general secondary education, which is necessary for admission to higher education institutions.

Higher Education in Latvia

Higher education in Latvia is provided by universities and other higher education institutions. It includes bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs. Admission is based on the results of the secondary education certificate and entrance examinations.

How does a newcomer from a different country enroll their kids in school?

Newcomers can enroll their children in Latvian schools by submitting an application to the chosen school, along with the child’s birth certificate, a medical certificate, and proof of residence. If the child has previously attended school in another country, a certificate of previous education may also be required. It’s advisable to contact the chosen school directly for specific enrollment procedures.

Can children still learning Latvian enroll in a public school?

Yes, children who are still learning Latvian can enroll in public schools. These schools provide Latvian language support for non-native speakers to help them integrate into the regular curriculum. However, the level of support may vary from school to school.

Are there public bilingual schools in Latvia?

Yes, there are public bilingual schools in Latvia, particularly in areas with a high concentration of Russian-speaking population. These schools offer instruction in both Latvian and Russian. Admission procedures are similar to those of other public schools.

What types of private schools are common in Latvia?

Private schools in Latvia include international schools, bilingual schools, and religious schools, among others. International schools often follow an international curriculum, such as the International Baccalaureate, and offer instruction in English or other foreign languages. Bilingual schools offer instruction in Latvian and another language, often English or Russian. Religious schools, such as Catholic schools, provide education based on a specific religious ethos.

Do expats typically send their children to public or private school?

Expats in Latvia often choose private schools, particularly international schools, for their children. These schools offer a familiar curriculum and language of instruction, which can ease the transition for expat children. However, some expats may choose public schools to immerse their children in the local culture and language.

How expensive are Private schools in Latvia?

The cost of private schools in Latvia can vary widely, depending on the school and the specific program. On average, tuition fees can range from a few thousand euros to over ten thousand euros per year. It’s advisable to contact the chosen school directly for specific fee information.

Are you allowed to homeschool while living in Latvia?

Yes, homeschooling is allowed in Latvia. Parents who wish to homeschool their children must submit a request to the local municipality and follow the national curriculum. Homeschooled children are required to take the same national examinations as children in traditional schools.

May kids attend online school instead of a local school while living in Latvia?

Yes, online schooling is an option in Latvia, particularly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it’s advisable to check with the local education authorities for specific regulations and requirements regarding online schooling.

Joshua WoodJoshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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