Interest-based Education at  Annas 2: Sandbox for Capabilities


Building rockets, model planes and wooden toys, and producing work in photography, electronics, theatre, animation, are just a few of the 40 workshops and courses where children and young people aged six to 25 can find something interesting to do. “We allow people to test their abilities, and this helps them to choose a profession and to develop as people,” says director of the Annas 2 technical creativity centre, Irēna Masaļonoka.


Annas 2 is located on Annas Street in Riga, and it is one of the most recognised career oriented non-formal education centres in Latvia. Some 1,600 children and young people attend activities there. In 1996, Annas 2 held the first youth and experimental film festival, 2ANNAS, an event which has become an international forum for independent films and audio-visual arts, developing far beyond its origins at the centre of technical creativity.


“We have tried to preserve things that are less common in the area of interest-based education in Latvia, but that remain very important – technical creativity, crafts and multimedia work,” says Irēna. The centre was opened as an independent educational institution in March, 1989, and children and young people must do practical work there. She explains that this is the main attraction for Annas 2. As she puts it, “parents want to pull children out of the virtual world so that they build something and feel a sense of happiness about it.”


One of the most seasoned teachers at the creativity centre is the photographer Andrejs Grants. He established a master workshop in photography in 1980, when the building was a technical branch of the Proletarian District Pioneer Centre during Soviet times. Andrejs now has some 40 students, of which roughly one-third remain with the programme for more than a year. “People learn very well whether they enjoy what they’re doing and whether they should stick with the group or look for something else,” says Andrejs, who has played a decisive role in the development of photography in Latvia. How many students has he had? “I haven’t counted them all up,” he admits. “Many of them now work in other areas of the arts. Nearly every week I receive an invitation to the opening of an exhibition by a former student.” But Andrejs is a committed teacher. As he explains it, “I’m afraid that I can never attend those events, however, because I have endless lessons here at the centre.”