On 29th of November, Minister Liina Kersna took part in the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council in Brussels, where European ministers held a discussion on diversifying learning through various learning methods and tools, as well as adopted recommendation on blended learning.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on education and has raised the need in schools to combine different learning approaches. “A high-quality digital education must become available to everyone. We must invest in digital infrastructure and devices to achieve this and provide a high-quality digital education,” says Liina Kersna. “Digital tools and digital learning will not replace contact learning; technology can only supplement learning.”
In accordance with the adopted recommendation, ministers state that it is imperative to provide additional resources to schools so that they are able to offer on-site assistance to students with learning gaps. “Estonia allocated 40 euros per student to schools (six million euros in total) in spring during the last academic year. An additional 12 million euros will be allocated from next year’s state budget to fill in the learning gaps,” says Liina Kersna, adding that they plan to continue collaborating with the ASÕP substitute teacher programme as well as cooperate with Tallinn University and the University of Tartu, which provide additional help to schools.
The recommendation also puts forward that the primary concern should be the physical and mental health of students, teachers and also parents. This should involve integrating blended learning into the training of teachers in order to help them deal with multiple digital tools and circumstances. “Estonia has developed a counselling hotline for school psychologists in order to support the mental health of students, parents and educational staff. The support line provides simple and accessible opportunity to speak with a qualified school psychologist conveniently, anonymously and free of charge,” says Liina Kersna.
The adopted recommendation establishes further actions in primary and secondary learning environments and the tools to combine in a way that develops more robust education and training systems in accordance with the Digital Education Action Plan (2021-2027) and the European Education Area.
The European Commission will support the implementation of the recommendation by facilitating mutual learning and exchanges among member states and all relevant stakeholders and to support the development of resources and professional development and learning opportunities for teachers, trainers and other educational staff.
The Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council comprises ministers from EU Member States who are responsible for education, culture, youth, media, communication and sport. The Council usually meets three times a year.