Daugavpils State Teachers’ Institute (1921 – 1952)
The dawn of Daugavpils University is connected with Daugavpils Pedagogical Secondary School (DPSS) that was opened on November the 4th in 1921, due to the lack of professionally trained teachers. It was the first four-year pedagogical secondary school in Latgale region. Janis Jirgens was appointed the acting head of Daugavpils Pedagogical Secondary School. In the beginning, there were 9 teachers and two forms with 36 students.
In December 1922 the school was reorganized into four-year Teachers’ Seminary with Eižens Vietnieks as the new director and changed its lodgings into 1/3 Peterpils Street (today Saules Street ). The building was built especially for the seminary. Number of students in all three forms reached 67. Latvian, German, Russian, Latgalian dialect, Natural Sciences, Mathematics, History, Gymnastics, Drawing, Singing and Religion (separately for Catholics and Lutherans) were taught by 13 teachers.
On August 1, 1923 DPSS was reorganized into Daugavpils State Teachers’ Institute (DSTI) with five-year study programme. The aim of the institute was to bring up and educate a new generation of teachers, in order to lay the foundations of the Latvian teachers’ training system. In the period form 1923 till 1940 DSTI educated 505 teachers with the license to teach all subjects in all six forms of the primary school and general subjects in lower types of vocational schools. The length of studies during different periods of the operation of DSTI increased from 4 years (1921-1923) till 5 years (1924-1929) and then till 6 years (1929-1940).
Besides the process of studies students were also actively involved in extra-curricular activities: played in a symphonic orchestra, sang in a choir as well as boys and girls quartets, played theatre, issued their own literary journals, led an active sports life and went on different excursions. We should definitely mention “Mazpulki” organization established by teacher Osvalds Pupols in 1936. In the framework of this organization its members were engaged in needlework, production of housekeeping articles and visual aids, collecting material about folklore and ethnography and even penetrated an uninhabited island in lake Medums.
In order to provide adequate practice for students and prepare them for the role of the elementary school teacher, in study year 1924/1925 Daugavpils Sate Primary School was opened under the patronage of DSTI and in study year 1928/1929 the first kindergarten in Daugavpils was opened.
In 1938 admission of students into DSTI was suspended and on July 16, 1940 Daugavpils State Teachers’ Institute (STI) was closed. The inventory and the archive of the establishment were handed over to Rezekne Pedagogical Institute. Students of the final years were allowed to finish their studies in the newly established pedagogical institute.
In October 1944 the preparation of teachers was renewed in two-year State Teachers Institute, opened on the basis of former DSTI. First students took up their studies on February 8, 1945 in the faculties of Natural Sciences and Geography, History, Language and Literature and Physics and Mathematics. Form 1944 till 1952, one thousand five hundred ninety three teachers graduated from full-time and part-time studies of STI.