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Valdis Zatlers

Valdis Zatlers

Annual Report 2009

Education

President Zatlers has defined education as one of the priorities for his presidency.

 

Structural reforms in education

  

Education became particularly important in 2009, when structural changes were made to the educational system. President Zatlers has supported and facilitated these reforms. During regional visits throughout the year, he has met with school administrators and teachers to learn about the situation and the mood among educations. President Zatlers has also initiated other opportunities to talk to teachers. He met with participants at a Teachers’ Congress, helped to present awards to the best schools and teachers during the Friendly Challenge project, and presented Atis Kronvalds awards to people who have made substantial investments in educating talented students and organising and managing scientific research work among students. These awards have traditionally been presented at the Rīga Castle.

 

 

President Zatlers has also held a meeting of history teachers to talk about the teaching of Latvian history in schools. He has said that familiarity with the history of one’s own country is a prerequisite for establishing and strengthening the national identity of young people. The President also, for a second year, supported the “What’s Happening?” competition which the newspaper Diena organises for 9th grade students. He met with the winning individuals and classes from each region at the Rīga Castle.

 

 

After questions about the future of the Latvian Academic Library, President Zatlers met with the library’s director and the relevant members of government. Three possible scenarios for future developments were identified, and the reorganisation ended up meaning that the library was transferred to the University of Latvia.

 

President Zatlers met with representatives of the Latvian Association of Music Schools and the Latvian Association of Art Schools to discuss ways of ensuring the operations of art, music and sports schools in 2010. The President also discussed the matter with Prime Minister Dombrovskis, reaching agreement that in 2010, these institutions would have to change their programmes, but none would be closed down. As a result of this, the Education Ministry provided LVL 3.2 million for the salaries of local government sports school trainers, while eight agencies that are subordinated to the ministry (these are all state-founded sports schools) are to be reorganised with the aim of restructuring the institutional system of national governance.

 

 

The 2nd discussion of the Presidential Strategic Analysis Commission’s Latvian Forum was devoted to education. The forum was dominated by ideas on how to improve the economies of educational institutions and to motivate their employees, as well as on the subject of interest-based education.

 

 

Mission Possible

 

The Mission Possible Programme graduated its second shift of new teachers this year, and that has been a very successful initiative in the area of education in recent years. President Zatlers is the patron of the programme, and he has actively taken part in Mission Possible Week. This week he taught a class at the Mežciems Elementary School. The President has stated his support for the Mission Possible idea during regional visits and visits to schools in Rīga, where he has taught lessons. In 2009, the President taught 28 classes to children in general, professional and minority schools throughout Latvia.

 

  

Meeting with schoolchildren, students and educators

 

This year the President has met actively with students at the Baltic Defence College, the Turība School of Business, the Latvian Agricultural University, the Latvian National Defence Academy, the University of Latvia, the Rēzekne University College, the Rīga University College, and the Ventspils University College. The President has talked to students and instructors about timely issues in the areas of higher education and science.

 

Late in 2008, President Zatlers reinstated the Presidential Minorities Consulting Council, and during the course of 2009, he actively visited minority schools – Estonian, Lithuanian, Polish, Belarusian, Jewish and Ukrainian schools, as well as Russian schools in Rīga and elsewhere in Latvia.

 

 

While abroad, the President visits Latvian Saturday and Sunday schools. The American Latvian Association has a programme called “Hi, Latvia!”, and President Zatlers regularly meets with its participants when they visit Rīga.

 

 

Shadow Day, which is a career education event for schoolchildren, is a tradition in Latvia, and some schoolchildren tag along with the President during his working day. Despite his busy schedule, President Zatlers invites schoolchildren from different schools to meet with him two or three times a month. During the past year, the President’s work has been studied up close by 88 students from 27 general schools in Latvia – 61 students from Latvian, 25 students from minority, and two students from bilingual schools. The most active schoolchildren during the President’s regional visits are often invited to come for a visit.

 

 

The Presidential Lecture Cycle

 

 

A new initiative, “Readings by World Leaders,” was launched as part of the Presidential Lecture Cycle initiative this autumn, allowing representatives of academia, the intelligentsia, the media and the student world to listen to lectures delivered by distinguished people from various sectors in the world. These can offer a broader view of global issues of an economic, political and social issues. The first lecture was delivered by Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum.