The aim of the project „Latvian School Bag” is to provide an opportunity for all school-age children and youth (1st to 12th grades including vocational programs) to experience Latvia, to explore its values, culture and relationships through dynamic and meaningful activities thus strengthening sense of belonging and civic identity. The system has been developed which, starting from September 2018, will provide the opportunity for pupils to experience a variety of activities and events of historical heritage, professional art and culture within the educational framework while access to them will be guaranteed by the state.
Conceptual framework of the project is bases on four pillars: 1) promoting citizenship, sense of belonging to the state and national identity, 2) improving quality of education in the sense of the 21st century, 3) raise cultural awareness and expression competence and 4) decreasing the social inequalities.
Four main content areas will provide students with the opportunity to explore and experience
1) evidence of the development and preservation of the Latvian statehood,
2) values of the cultural heritage and contemporary expressions,
3) development of science and innovations, especially for arts and creative industries, and
4) values of nature and cultural landscape.
Implementation will include visiting (providing access to) cultural events and processes, inviting artists, creative professionals etc. to schools, promoting cooperation among education and culture specialists and developing local involvement and ownership.
It is planned that the initiative will give the opportunity to all the Latvian children and young people (more than 200 000 each year) regularly acquaint with classical values and contemporary manifestations of professional art and culture, adding knowledge and creating awareness of the processes in architecture, design, theatre, music, visual art, dance, literature, cultural heritage and cinematography.
The main principles of Latvian school bag should be equality in access regardless of the place of residence of the child, diversity, balance between traditional and contemporary culture, opportunity of active participation, as well as promotion of awareness, emotional experience and critical thinking.
The already established cultural and artistic offer for children and young audiences is a good basis for the cultural content of the initiative: theatres, museums and concert organizations offer special programs, there is a variety of reading promotion activities, the joint project of the National Film Centre and the National Centre for Education "Film School" helps to include Latvian films in the education process, but the Cultural Canon calls to explore the cultural and art events, personalities and their achievements.
However, the access to the existing and newly created cultural and artistic offering must be ensured to all Latvian children, and active participation of children and youth in the creation of culture and art themselves should be promoted. There should be conditions that promote children's opportunities to meet artists and help art and culture become a part of everyday learning process within and outside the school.
An inter-institutional working group was set up to develop the conceptual framework of the project, including representatives of the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, the National Centre for Education, UNESCO Latvian National Commission, Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments, Youth Action Committee for Latvian National Centenary, Latvian National Library, National Film Centre, Latvian National cultural Centre, several schools and municipalities.
Ministry of Culture commissioned research project to find out current situation in Latvian schools regarding access to cultural events and historical treasures of Latvia as well as developed the list of cultural offers for children and youth provided by the state institutions and NGOs.
The pilot project in 8 schools from 3 municipalities in different regions of Latvia took place during September – December 2016. In November – December 2017 pilot project took place in three other municipalities.
In September 2018 the project will start officially in all education establishments across the country, being a gift to the Latvian society in centenary of the state of Latvia.
Such or similar practices successfully function in many countries. Experience of similar program in Norway has been studied in particularly and should be explored more in details in terms of principles and administration of it.
http://lv100.lv/programma/latvijas-skolas-soma/ (in Latvian)
Aija Tūna, Head of Education and Youth Programme, Office Latvia 100