Today, 13 April, AS Olainfarm’s first grants were presented to budding chemistry teachers. In order to encourage the industry’s development from school level onwards, and with the aim of fostering kids’ interest in learning chemistry, and to support budding chemistry teachers, the company will invest EUR 75,000 for the next five years, with each of the 25 best chemistry teachers being awarded a one-time scholarship of EUR 3,000. The first three scholarship recipients are students from the University of Latvia: Marija Kramorenko from Riga, Vika Viktorija Kreitāle from Liepaja and Mārtiņš Mārcis Pavļukovskis from Dobele.

According to the Ministry of Education and Science’s statistics, at the start of the 2021/2022 academic year, there were 77,000 students in Latvian higher education institutions. Of these, only 10% are studying natural sciences, mathematics and information technology, and only 6.6% have chosen educational science. Moreover, the number of students in education-related sciences is tending to decrease.*

“Although we don’t know which professions will be required in five or 10 years’ time, we do know which skills taught at school will be required. Accordingly, teachers play a crucial role in helping young people to adapt and navigate a fast changing environment. How can we get children interested in teaching chemistry, how can we make this science interesting so that young people are inspired to continue along the path of science and chemistry, which is in great need in many professions? The development of the teachers’ programme is among the cornerstones of education policy, because by investing in teachers, we develop society as a whole, so that Latvia is more knowledgeable and capable. Thank you to Olainfarm, who have proposed this scholarship initiative, and I hope that other companies will follow their example by supporting teachers, increasing the prestige of teachers within society and give them light, so that teachers can pass this light onto us,” asserted Minister for Education and Science and the Scholarship’s Patron Anda Čakša.

Since an insufficient number of young people are graduating from Latvia’s universities with degrees in exact sciences, and since an examination in chemistry in not among the most frequently chosen options in schools, this has a detrimental impact on the development of science, as well as on the job market. One of the keys to getting youngsters interested in any teaching subject is a passionate and capable teacher.

“Only inspiring, knowledgeable and motivated chemistry teachers can nurture interest in chemistry and the desire to learn it. Therefore, Olainfarm’s shareholders have decided to found a scholarship to support prospective teachers, and we are honoured that the Minister for Education and Science is the patron of this project, accenting the national importance of this scholarship. Of course, the development of the chemical industry by nurturing kids’ interest in it while they are still at school, is in the pharmaceutical industry’s interests, but it is also a major contribution to the country’s overall growth. We need to foster youngsters’ interest in exact science subjects, because this is the only way that we can ensure the development of science and innovation in Latvia in the long-term, consolidating entrepreneurship in industries with high added value and boosting our international competitiveness,” says AS Olainfarm Chairman of the Board Juris Bundulis.

Currently, eight young people are studying at the University of Latvia with a view to becoming chemistry teachers. Professor Linda Daniela, Deacon of the University of Latvia’s Faculty of Pedagogy, Psychology and Art is hopeful that Olainfarm’s scholarship will stimulate interest among youngsters in choosing teaching chemistry as a profession.

All three scholarship recipients already knew they wanted to be teachers right from childhood, and acknowledge that inspiring teachers played a major role in motivating them to choose teaching as a profession. Although Rigan Marija Kramorenko will graduate from university this summer, parallel to her studies, she has already been teaching chemistry to the 8th and 9th grades at Riga’s 86th Secondary School for the past two years. In her job as a teacher, she always tries to link the theory of chemistry to real life and believes that every child requires a special approach – this the only way that anyone can learn chemistry. Likewise, although Liepaja native Vika Viktorija Kreitāle will only receive her teacher’s diploma this summer, she has taught chemistry at the Iļguciems Primary School for the past year, where she uses simulations in her teaching work. She derives the greatest satisfaction from the involvement of students, their success, and words of thanks to their teacher. Meanwhile, although Mārtiņš Mārcis Pavļukovskis from Dobele has only completed his fourth semester, he is already teaching chemistry to primary and secondary school classes in Riga 47th secondary school and is also a 10th grade teacher. He derives the most satisfaction from helping struggling pupils who do not understand the subject matter to succeed. He believes that teaching methods should be changed on a regular basis.

Every year the scholarship will be awarded to five University of Latvia students with the highest grades, who have chosen to become chemistry teachers. The next two scholarship recipients will be selected from first year students with the highest secondary school certificate grades.

* Ministry of Education and Science, 2021 Latvian Higher Education Report