Latvia has relied heavily on technology well before the outbreak of Covid-19, rendering the country well-equipped to tackle challenges caused by the crisis. In 2018, Latvia was home to over 350 startups and the country ranks fourth in the world for internet speed, not to mention that in the capital city – Riga, there are over 800 free wifi spots. It is thus unsurprising that once lockdown was announced in March until May 12th, Latvia’s digital ecosystem quickly adapted to remote working conditions, home-schooling and social distancing. With schools, universities and museums closed and many government institutions working on a skeleton crew, here are some of the ways players in the Latvian ecosystem have had to come up with new solutions to continue learning, teaching and innovating. For a full list, visit our interactive database, powered by NordicBaltic.Tech, a partnership between PUBLIC Denmark and the Nordic Council of Ministers.
Skola 2030 is a bank of teaching aids spanning from maths to physics, with a range of material for children of all ages. The platform is home to a total of 53 teaching and methodological aids, being used by 1513 Latvian teachers and 4389 students. Skola 2030 was an initiative launched in 2019, before the Covid-19 crisis as a result of a curriculum change whereby ‘skills in various areas are also important to life’ has become the new normal. The Latvian education system has undergone some “radical changes such as changing the content of lessons in schools to be created by students as well as teachers”. Skola 2030 is the digital platform meant to enforce these changes and was perfectly placed to allow children and teachers to continue online learning through the Covid-19 crisis.
Covid-19 Schools Survey
Edurio is a startup which runs specialised surveys for schools, students and parents designed to give schools an insight into their most important educational duties. During the Covid-19 crisis they have launched a survey for schools to engage with the Latvian parent community both to understand what they can do to ensure continuity of learning and to let them know that they will not be left alone in case of school closures. Since school closures, many parents have been worried about continuing their child’s education at home and the most effective ways of helping their child to learn without teacher supervision. The survey consists of a simple set of questions which analyses a parents readiness for home schooling and will gather important data to inform schools how best to help parents through this difficult time.
The Raccoons Digital and IT Skills Workshops
The Raccoons is an online community hosting hackathons and workshops for students interested in tech and STEM subjects. The online experience is aimed at students in Latvia and beyond, with any level of experience and tries to foster an environment for curiosity towards tech and exploration by offering workshops and mentors, teaching the basics of coding and technology. The Raccoons have launched a number of online events and courses throughout the Covid-19 period to keep young people engaged and interested in STEM subjects. The events are open to anyone up to the age of 25, from any country regardless of skill and background. You can register here, or join the Raccoons Digital team on their slack channel here.
Covid-19 Business Support Instruments
ALTUM is a state-owned economic and finance institution in Latvia, which offers state aid for various target groups with the help of financial tools. As of the 25th March, SME’s and startups affected by the crisis can apply for ALTUM support measures, approved by the Latvian Government. The support measures have been approved by the Ministry of Economics and the European Union and include current asset loans and bank loan holidays. You can find out more information about who can apply here.