Reduced School Dropouts and Lower OECD PISA Scores: Controversial Impact of Rural Schools on Education Policy Efficacy in Latvia

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:30
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Ieva KARKLINA, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia, Latvia
Ilze KOROLEVA, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia, Latvia
Ilze TRAPENCIERE, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia, Latvia
The number of Latvian population constantly decreases due to low birth rates and extensive emigration, furthermore – national level mobility from countryside to capital is widespread. Therefore, population density in rural areas is declining, and in turn – number of pupils in rural schools. Policy planners emphasize three strategical pillars of Latvian education system - quality, accessibility and cost-effectiveness – and statement that every child, regardless of place of birth and socio-economic status should be able to receive qualitative education.

At the same time Latvian pupils' achievements – the result of quality of education system - are at mediocre level in the international comparative educational evaluations. Unfortunately, OECD PISA results and centralized examinations in national level shows strong growing difference in pupils' achievements between urban schools with high results and relatively low results of rural schools. Also, rural schools receive much of the criticism in relation to the lack of cost-effectiveness – the number of pupils is very small, therefore teacher – pupils ratio is low, which creates a negative impact on the efficiency of the education system in the national level. At the same time, studies confirm that schools closest to the residence provide higher accessibility and reduces early school drop-out, that is undoubtedly crucial for human capital development in situation characterized by significant income inequality, high risk of poverty in families with children.

Considering forecasts related to depopulation trends, aim of this research is to seek evidence based solutions for "smart shrinking" of education institutions network in Latvia -  identify ways to reduce infrastructure maintenance costs, to develop innovative approaches to education accessibility and equity by cooperation between municipalities.

This research is supported by the research project “Rural Depopulation and the Governance of Education. Comparative Study of Latvia and Norway” Nr. NFI/R/2014/014, co-financed by the Norway Grants.