Tatjana Koķe, Minister of Education and Science, participated in the meeting of Latgale Planning Region Development Council

On January 25, the meeting of Latgale Planning Region Development Council took place at Latgale Art and Craft Centre of Līvāni. Tatjana Koķe, Minister of Education and Science, Mareks Gruškevics, State Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Science (MES) and other representatives of the Ministry participated in the meeting. Minister of Education and Science has visited regions for the first time after her assignment. The aim of the meeting was to discuss with directors of local governments the issues concerning development of Latgale educational institutions, the function of educational institutions after regional reform, development plans of professional institutions.

Elementary Schools Must Be Preserved
In the near future, the Ministry intends to evaluate the function of secondary schools and the proportional financing per pupil. The merge of classes and the optimization of secondary schools are to be discussed. Elementary schools where small children take classes must be preserved, announced Minister T. Koķe.
The decisive criterion of elementary and secondary schools is the quality of education that a small school can hardly give. Such small schools are expensive for governance. The society has no idea of pupils’ amount in some Latvian schools. People often are mistaken in thinking that it refers to the pupils’ number in a class; in fact, it is pupils’ number in a school. In Latvia there are still schools with 9, 19 or 23 pupils. In future, such schools will not exist any more, noticed Minister.
While working out a model of development of schools, the Ministry is waiting for offers of local governments, regional educational institutions and directors of schools. Education is financed by the government, however founders and providers are local governments, therefore all opinions are important. Working group of the Ministry has to work out a concept of school development model until June 15, 2008. The model as a new project will be used in 3 local governments – in the city of republican status, in the biggest and smallest region.
Every Region Will Be Financed
After regional reform, the financing for education will be not shared among regions any more. It will be allocated to each local government depending on pupils’ number. Earlier, big schools supported small schools. The situation in regions will be different after reformation. It will be affected by the number of pupils and educational institutions in each local government.
Overall Calculation
Leaders of small local governments are worried about the further order in overall calculations. Children living in small rural districts often decide to study in urban schools. District government pays to urban government a lot of money (“money follows the pupils” principle). Leaders of many local governments noted that overall calculations are to be controlled. A basic sum should be determined; otherwise small local governments will suffer. Representatives of the Ministry declared that it is very difficult to determine the sum because expenses of schools are different. It is necessary to determine what must be included in expenses and to look for a compromise among local governments.
Who Will Build Kindergartens?
Opinions of leaders of local governments and the Ministry about preschool educational institutions have divided. Leaders of local governments think that building of kindergartens is an object of the state because financial possibilities of local governments are insufficient. Representatives of the Ministry have tried to assure that the best owner is not the state but local governments and private investors. Leaders of local governments noted that not only new preschool institutions should be built but also already existing institutions should be reconstructed. Mareks Gruškevics, MES secretary mentioned about experience of Estonia where imposed tax percent of the budget of local governments is higher than in Latvia. Local governments invest money in infrastructure, in building of kindergartens and do not wait for the help of the state.
Professional Schools of Latgale
Leaders of local governments and of the Ministry discussed principles of the development of professional schools that will have a right to pretend to ERDF financing in the programme “Infrastructure and Services” in activity “Modernization of School Equipment and Improvement of Infrastructure in Realization of Education Programme”. In Latgale there are 22 educational institutions. The Ministry offered only 11 schools that will receive financing assistance. Leaders of local government of Latgale think that criterion is wrong. It is not clear if offered programmes will satisfy employers respecting labour force. There is also no answer to a question how will be developing other educational institutions that do not receive the financing assistance.
According to local governments of Latgale, to organize an open competition of projects was fairer. Every offer and its accomplishment possibility of every school should be considered. Consequently, the most qualitative projects should get money.
Unfortunately, this offer did not get support from the Ministry, however representatives of Latgale region do not give in. The final decision was not made. Leaders of local governments accentuated that it is not the Star Factory where one can vote for colleagues and decide which schools will develop in the future. That means that the discussion between the Ministry of Education and Science and representatives of Latgale region will be continued.
Five People Will Receive The Highest Award of Latgale Planning Region
Certificates of excellence got five nominees. Members of Latgale Planning Region Development Council agreed that all nominees deserve an award. In February, perhaps together with next LRP meeting, the certificates of excellence will be given to:

  • PĒTERIS KEIŠS – citizen of Rēzekne, executive director of the Latvian Cultural Association of Rēzekne, active cultural and social worker, restorer of liberty monument in Latgale “Vienoti Latvijai”.
  • ELITA TEILĀNE – director of Balvi Art School, active cultural and social worker, she has implemented many important projects and made known the name of Latgale and Balvi (award is planned to be given during the Balvi town holiday).
  • ANTONS SLIŠĀNS – writer, cultural worker of Balvi region, keeper of folklore of Latgalian traditions, author of more than 20 books.
  • INTA VIĻUMA – founder and leader of folk association “Olūteņi” in Krāslava region. The folk association is known in whole Latvia with its interpritations of Latgalian songs.
  • LATGALES RADIO – one of the most listened to radio station in Latgale region. It popularizes the Latgalian language in society of 21st century.
For the Asphalt Covering of Primary Roads More Money is Requested
Members of the Latgale Planning Region Development Council agreed to give the offered plan of asphalting of primary roads to the Ministry of Communications. The Ministry will have to decide which stage is foreground, because local governments did not want to delete any of them.
Initial offer of the Ministry was to support only first seven stages that are mentioned in a schedule (highlighted text). For asphalt covering of primary roads in Latgale region are planned 36,38 million LVL (85% ERDF), Vidzeme – 63,69 million LVL, Rīga – 29,40 million LVL, Zemgale – 37,82 million LVL and Kurzeme – 37,59 million LVL. The biggest whole length of primary roads is in Vidzeme – 1360 km, Latgale – 980 km.
The Programme of Integrated Development Has Been Accepted
The Latgale Planning Region Development Council accepted the integrated development programme for 2008-2014 that has been worked out by local government of Līvāni.
In the integrated development programme, Līvāni (in local government there are ~ 12 000 inhabitants at this moment) is a place of inheritance of traditions, modern technologies, bicyclists and knowledge. Līvāni is also a religious centre. Local government institutions had the same positions while implementing different projects. A profile of local government of Līvāni completes profiles of other regional governments. Jēkabpils, for example, is a centre of logistics and production, Rēzekne – a centre of education and culture, Daugavpils – a centre of international services and tourism, Krāslava – a centre of boundary tourism and the gate to Belorussia, Preiļi – a centre of processing of agricultural products and tourism, Balvi – the gate of Latgale to Estonia.
In connection with investments, Līvāni has emphasized 3 priorities:
1) promotion of innovative enterprise;
2) environment improvement and long-term regional development;
3) promoting of tourism.
The investment plan consists of 99 projects that are divided into 15 groups – that is a draft of region’s necessities in this year. In the framework of EU priority “Polycentric Development”, in Līvāni 3 purposes will be accomplished: reconstruction of streets parallel to transit street; improvement of tenement-house area in Līvāni; reconstruction of recreation centre of Līvāni.
The integrated development programme will be directed to the Ministry of Regional Development and Local Government for the coordination.
Other Questions
At the meeting of Planning Region report of the “Latgale Region Development Agency” about accomplishment of delegation agreement of 4th quarter of 2007 was accepted.