Latvia: only Catholic school in Riga under threat

The only Catholic school in Riga,  which accepts children from Kindergarten up to the age of 19 is under threat of closure due to the severe financial situation that is gripping Latvia. Last week the Latvian Gas Company has requested an immediate payment of €27,000 from the school for outstanding gas supplies or else the system will not be restored.

The new Director of Education and Development for the diocese, Seán O’Donnell said: “Latvia’s poor financial stability has meant that some harsh cut backs to salaries and services had to be made by the Government. The Church, less than twenty years
after the Soviet occupation ended, has no real assets from which to draw upon. The fact that the school survived last year is a miracle in itself.

"The school is private and therefore parents have to pay. The fees are now €100 for children in the primary age group and €135 for the older students. Most parents are struggling to pay these fees so have removed their children and placed them in the State School system with classes of over 40 children. Some children have remained and I have arranged lower payments in the hope I can find sponsors for the children. Now I have to find money for the Gas bill and then the September salary for teachers who didn’t
get paid in August either so that is another €20,000 needed!"

Asked if the school has a future or is it a leaking bucket, Seán said: "if we can pay off these debts and thus get rid of penalty payments then the school will become viable in 2011. The development plan is in place, the academic standards are now being monitored, new learning programmes are being introduced so that the school can indeed be the Pride of the Baltics! I would not have come here otherwise!

Due to the financial crisis, both Seán’s salary and that of his Assistant was cancelled due to funding being withdrawn from another donor.

Offers of help, including financial, donations of teaching materials, furniture, and perhaps help with transportation of goods from Britain are especially needed.  To contact Seán  e-mail:

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