The conference was opened by the Minister of Education and Science, Mr Rolands Broks, who highlighted the necessity to link Latvian qualifications to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and to arrange the referencing process in a thorough way, involving all stakeholders.
During the first part of the event, Mr Carlo Scatoli (European Commission, Directorate General for Education and Culture) presented the policy developments in the field of EQF. Then Mr James Calleja (Malta Qualifications Authority) informed about the added value of a qualifications framework in the Maltese context and the benefits available to citizens when using one. Ms Baiba Ramina (Director of the Academic Information Centre) presented the results of the Latvian consultation process on referencing Latvian qualifications to EQF. The results mentioned and other information is summarised in the national self-assessment report, which was prepared by the Academic Information Centre in cooperation with the Policy Coordination Department of the Ministry of Education and Science. The draft of this report was presented during this conference.
The elaboration of the national qualifications framework is a labour-, time- and resource-consuming process. To carry out the referencing process and the elaboration of national qualifications in a continuous and meaningful way, the Latvia process has been planned in two phases:
1. 2009-2011 – referencing of the existing Latvian education system to EQF for lifelong learning and European Higher Education Area (EHEA) Qualifications Framework.
2. 2013-2015 – reviewing the self-assessment report, on the basis of the new Vocational Education Law, Higher Education Law and the results of ESF project ‘Development of sectoral qualifications system and increasing the efficiency and quality of vocational education’ (2010-2013).
For instance, the reference to the relevant EQF level in all education documents, which is one of the referencing process criteria, is expected to be introduced in the second phase of the referencing process, when the new Vocational Education Law is developed and approved and the Higher Education Law is approved.
The presentations and speeches in the second part of conference were more focused on the Latvian qualifications system both in general and in particular educational sectors.
Mr Dmitrijs Kulss (Ministry of Education and Science, Deputy Director of the Policy Coordination Department, Head of Lifelong Learning Division) informed about eight Latvian levels of knowledge and skills, their descriptors and relevance to the formal education programmes in Latvia.
Ms Ilze Brante (Ministry of Education and Science, Deputy Director of the Vocational Education and General Education Department, Head of Vocational Education Division) focused on the meaning of EQF in the Latvian vocational education also informing about the planned reforms in the national vocational education system.
Mr Andrejs Rauhvargers (Secretary General of the Latvian Rectors’ Council) informed about the qualifications frameworks based on learning outcomes in Latvian higher education.
In conclusion, three international experts – Sean O’Reilly (Ireland), Luca Lantero (Italy) and Kulli All (Estonia), – which had previously reviewed the national self-assessment report, expressed their opinions concerning the referencing process of the Latvian education system to the EQF.
In total, 140 representatives from ministries, State and municipal institutions, education establishments, employers’ organizations, trade unions, students’ organizstions, as well as from other organisations related to education issues in Latvia and other countries participated in the conference.
The conference was organized in the framework of the European Commission project EAC-2010-0131 ‘Activities of EQF National Coordination Points with a view to implement the EQF at national level’.