The ideas presented at the Vision Conference “Smart and Active Estonia 2035 ” will provide the basis for the preparation of four future strategies.
“Bold outward thinking is invigorating and exciting, but looking into the future in the field of education and research is an enormous challenge,” said Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps while opening the conference. “When it comes to our field the year 2035 is much closer than it seems and the decisions we make have much longer-term objectives.”
Minister Reps recognised everyone involved in the process for contributing their ideas and called on the conference participants to find the best options among those visions.
“Today is a time for rounding things up at the midway point,” she added. “The task of reaching a wording we all agree on still lies ahead of us.” Minister Reps reminded the audience that since the Government Office is leading the drafting of the overall ‘Estonia 2035’ strategy, the Ministry would also have to agree on national fundamentals within the next couple of years.
Professor Margit Sutrop, the head of the working group on values and responsibility, remarked that although Estonian society has evolved a great deal, there must be a role for responsibility at the heart of our freedoms. “Where do we go next? Value space is something we can maintain and foster through education. Learning must become something we do throughout our lives,” she said.
“How can we find a panacea that will open people’s eyes to the importance of Estonian culture and what it means to be Estonian so that they will champion these things in their everyday lives and when they head off into the world?” said Professor Marju Lauristin, the head of the working group on welfare and cohesion.
Lauristin added that at present, work and education are mainly discussed in terms of what people should study rather than what sort of people they should become. “Education and research should be far more integrated from the outset,” she said.
Raul Eamets, the head of the working group on competitive ability, stressed that Estonia needs smarter jobs that create greater added value. This, he explained, also means that the general level of education needs to be raised. “All of us need to have a number of strings to our bow if we’re to succeed on the job market,” he said. His working group put forward the idea of implementing so-called nano-degrees – opportunities for specialisation with a shorter study period.
Among the ideas raised during the panels covering various fields, a number were made repeatedly: the determining role played by teachers; the need for cooperation in every possible way between home, school and parts of the education system; and the importance of seamless education. The very important task of creating cohesion is also borne by youth work.
“Finding solutions is only possible through global cooperation, not competition,” said Aivar Haller, chairman of the management board of the Estonian Parents’ Association. “The talents that children and young people have are a national resource that the education system as a whole needs to contribute to moulding into true abilities.”
Tallinn University of Technology rector Jaak Aaviksoo remarked during the higher education and research panel that people are increasingly studying and learning outside of schools and universities. “The more mobile people are, the more elite education becomes,” he said. “We have to be able to cope with those challenges.”
A task for four working groups
The representatives of the Ministry of Education and Research recognised the visions for emphasising the lifelong nature of learning: it is no longer possible to solve all problems by offering educational opportunities within an inflexible formal education system, with lifelong learning, cooperation between different levels of education and cohesion with real life playing important roles. Therein we must not forget adult learners or those who need to be brought back into the education system.
Ministry secretary-general Mart Laidmets confirmed that the strategy process will continue within the working groups, the aim of which is to produce draft strategies in four fields.
“The ideas we’ve heard today will form the basis of the huge job that lies ahead of us,” he explained. “We’re convening four working groups who will work towards concrete policy recommendations being drawn up by autumn as a result of the strategy process.”
The working groups will include experts from the Ministry of Education and Research and other ministries, policy implementers and partners, experts from the relevant fields and representatives of target groups and stakeholders.
After the vision conference, interest groups and the public will have the chance to comment on the visions and regional discussions will be announced.
The ‘Education and Research Strategy 2035’ project is being led by Ando Kiviberg.
An English overview of the vision process and the vision documents can soon be found on the Ministry's website.
You can submit your opinions on the visions put forward by the experts by e-mailing email@example.com.