Can National Security be Taught?

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What other countries can learn from Latvia’s pioneering national security curriculum

In 2017, Latvia’s parliament decided that the country should launch a pioneering national security curriculum. Starting in the 2018/2019 academic year, the curriculum has been rolled out at the country’s secondary schools; by 2025, all schools will be teaching the curriculum to their 10th and 11th-grade pupils. The pupils are taught a range of theoretical and practical skills including:

  • Situational awareness (ability to act appropriately in critical situations).
  • Understanding the role of citizens in the defence of Latvia, including different threats against the country and the defence of it.
  • Basic military and defence skills (including physical training, military discipline and communications).
  • Civic engagement, leadership and teamwork.


Can national security be taught? How did Latvia’s civil authorities and armed forces go about designing the curriculum? Given that many other countries face the same range of kinetic and non-kinetic threats as Latvia, what can other countries learn from Latvia’s ground-breaking work?

In this briefing, the two officials who lead the development and implementation of the curriculum -- Major Ilze Leimane, Head of the Planning Section of Cadet Force of Latvia; and Guna Gavrilko, Head of the Structure and Military Personnel Development Planning Section of the Ministry of Defence of Latvia - will present their work and lessons learnt.

This event is chaired by Elisabeth Braw, Senior Research Fellow, Modern Deterrence, RUSI.

Speaker biographies

Major Ilze Leimane is Head of the Planning Section of the Cadet Force of Latvia. The Planning Section’s tasks include establishing a military-based training plan for 10th and 11th-grade school pupils as part of Latvia’s new national security curriculum. Major Leimane’s responsibilities include the planning and coordination of cooperation with other organisations, managing Cadets’, and directing and managing Cadet Force summer camps for cadets.

Guna Gavrilko is Head of the Structure and Military Personnel Development Planning Section of the Ministry of Defence of Latvia. Her responsibilities include the planning and implementation of military education and personnel planning policies. Prior to her current responsibilities, she was managed the military cooperation policies between Latvia and the United States.

Mrs Gavrilko holds a MA in Baltic Sea Region international studies from the University of Latvia and MA in Military Leadership and Command from the Latvian National Defence Academy. Her professional interests include the policies of effective management of military personnel and military service in small countries, which also is the subject of her PhD thesis at the University of Latvia.

Watch the recording

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