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Estonia sets an example with its open and inclusive education system

8. December 2018 - 3:27
Mailis Reps at the Meeting. Photo: UNESCO

Estonia was set as an example with its openness for innovation and digital solutions in education at the UNESCO Global Education Meeting that took place this week in Brussels, Belgium.

According to the minister of education and research Mailis Reps it is not a news anymore in Estonia that Estonia’s education is innovative and open for changes, instead Estonia’s education system provides great example and guide for other countries. „My colleagues at the Meeting found Estonia’s education as splendid, we are pioneers, our digital solutions are innovative, Estonia’s youth have contemporary skills and knowledge. It is great that hear all this and sharing our experiences with others brings even greater joy,“ said Reps. „In Estonia, we already know that our education is great and that our aim anymore is not to achieve top level education. We already have achieved this. Therefore we discussed at the Meeting how to find smart solutions and ways to stay on top,“ added minister.

Estonia sets an example for others to follow

Minister Reps shared Estonia’s experiences in working groups on teaching profession and pre-primary education. Reps was one of the main speakers accompanied by Belgium, Senegal and International Labour Organization in the panel on teaching profession that focused on how to improve the status of teaching profession. In the discussion on improving the professional status of teachers Mailis Reps stressed the need to support the development of teachers’ career and cooperation. It was agreed that Estonia is a great example where headmasters have large autonomy and wide range of possibilities to support and guide teachers’ career. Estonia’s achievements in improving the status of teaching profession were highly acknowledged.

Mailis Reps gave essential input as main speaker at the session on early childhood education and development. Based on the example of Estonia, she underlined the need for inclusive education to take into account all children’s needs. During the session, Estonia was highlighted as a country that provides excellent example among UNESCO member states in terms of ensuring equal access to education.

On the second day, minister Reps participated in the plenary panel debate focused on the inter-linkage between education and development together with researchers from the Universities of Cambridge, Cornell and Wageningen as well Deputy Ministers of Education of Bulgaria, Kenya and Venezuela. Reps stressed the need for continues investments in education and providing support for acquiring contemporary skills. Estonia was again highlighted as successful country to follow on implementing life-long learning.

The Outcome Statement

The ministers and other participants affirmed the essential role of education as a key driver for sustainable development and call for strengthened collective action to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote live-long learning opportunities for all:

  • Institute and strengthen strategic approaches and policy measures to make education systems more equitable and inclusive “leaving no one behind”.
  • Noting the complex challenges and unique opportunities that movements of people present for education systems, address the multiple barriers to access to quality education for migrants, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees.
  • Adapt planning and provision of education, lifelong learning, adult education and on-the-job training to support skilling and re-skilling strategies with appropriate governance and funding to develop learners with the competences to be active citizens in democratic, sustainable, peaceful and just societies and to enable them to engage in decent work.
  • Ensure publicly funded, up-to-date initial and continuous professional development, and appropriate recruitment processes, decent working conditions, professional autonomy and career pathways for teachers and education support personnel and ensure their involvement in the development, monitoring and evaluation of education policy
  • Call for strengthened domestic resource mobilization and increased international aid while ensuring a larger share of aid to countries with the greatest needs, and prioritizing resources to improve educational quality, equity and inclusion.
  • Strengthen the monitoring of inclusion, equity and quality in education ensuring necessary resources, inclusion of stakeholders, and building needed capacities


The Global Education Meeting was a preparatory event for high-level policy forum (taking place in July 2019) on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in education. More than 50 UNESCO member states and partner institutions attended the Meeting in Brussels, including 24 ministers of education and 16 deputy ministers of education from all over the world.

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