Latvia:Job-Related Non-Formal Adult Education
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Definition of non-formal education is included in the Education Law (Section 1, point 14.1.) – non-formal education is educational activities in conformity with interests and demand of a person and organised outside of formal education.
The Law also defines that non-formal adult educational programmes are determined by the content of such programmes and the conformity to with the interests of the State and of employers, as well as of individual development, and adults have the right to acquire these programmes throughout the length of their whole life regardless of previously acquired education.
Data of the Adult Education Survey compiled by the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia show that, in 2011, almost one third of adults (32.4%) aged 25 – 64 were participating in formal and/or non-formal education. Non-formal education plays significant role in the life-long learning perspective. 30% of the population aged 25 – 64 participated in non-formal education activities. Adult participation in non-formal education activities was mainly work-related. This reason was main for 77.3% of the survey participants.
There are no imposed formal requirements for the starting and conducting the non-formal education process. Acquisition of the education programme is not followed by the state recognised diploma.
According to the Education Law (Section 46(5)), local governments ensure the licensing of non-formal educational programmes. Also, the Law says that the State and local governments financially support adult education by financing non-formal adult educational programmes, as well as by supporting employers in the additional education of employees.
State support is directed to the job-related education and covers following sectors:
- support for unemployed persons, job seekers and employees mainly provided by the State Employment Agency of the Ministry of Welfare. The Support for Unemployed Persons and Job-Seeking Persons Law envisages list of supporting activities for unemployed and job-seeking persons. Among them is improvement of qualification for unemployed persons - for getting necessary skills demanded by labour market and broadening access to lifelong learning measures; activities for raising competitiveness and basic skills; activities for certain groups of individuals, especially for persons who has a disablement status;
- support for the entrepreneurs, business start-ups mainly provided by the Ministry of Economics and Investment and Development Agency of Latvia; etc.
Many of the support measures for the job-related non-formal education is financed by the European Structural Funding. The aim of these support measures is to upgrade and improve individuals’ knowledge, skills and competences.
The consistent state financial support to Latvian language acquisition programmes during last 17 years has been ensured. For the period starting from the 1996 to 2004 the Latvian Language Agency provided free of charge Latvian language courses for different target groups as teachers, kindergarten teachers, policemen, medical personnel, recruit and unemployed. Starting from the 2006 the Latvian Language Agency provides language courses for the teachers and pupils’ parents.
In the middle of 2009 the Ministry of Welfare introduced new preventive measure for reducing of unemployment – the education voucher system, which is a most democratic approach that enables adults to improve knowledge, skills, competence and competitiveness in the labour market by choosing its own education programme and educational institution. The programme is ensured by the State Employment Agency and is still ongoing in 2015.
For persons participating in free-of-charge non-formal education programmes offered by the State Employment Agency, admission requirement is registered unemployed person status. This admission requirement is not applicable to the education voucher system were any adult may participate, except civil servants.
There are no common admission requirements for the other job-related non-formal education programmes. Providers of the education programmes can determine specific admission requirements if such are necessary for the acquisition of the programme.
Learner Assessment/ Progression
An improvement of the learners’ knowledge, basic and professional skills contributes to the quality and effectiveness of the work process and provides opportunities to the better career possibilities.
After acquisition of job-related non-formal education programmes participants usually receive a certificate which testifies a fact of participation. The non-formal education certificates are not recognized by the state and its value are based mainly on the reputation of the education providers and practical application of skills and knowledge obtained at the programme.
Teaching Methods and Approaches
There are a great variety of the methods and training approaches in the non-formal education. In comparison with the formal education, the non-formal education programmes are more flexible. The education process is focused on practical application of skills and knowledge.
Education content usually is adapted to the needs of a learner or learner group in order to maximize benefits and minimize duration of study process. Many non-formal education providers are using ICT, distance learning and other contemporary approaches.