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Minister Liina Kersna at the International Summit on the Teaching Profession: we must involve teachers and support their mental health

22. October 2021 - 13:53

“Good mental health of teachers and their involvement in decision-making processes contribute to the well-being of teachers and the sustainability of the teaching profession. The task of governments, teacher organisations and school management is to create these preconditions in joint cooperation," said Minister of Education and Research of Estonia Liina Kersna in the discussion of the summit on Tuesday.

11th International Summit on the Teaching Profession (ISTP) took place virtually on October 19-21 this year with a focus: "Learning from the Past and Looking to the Future: Excellence and Equity for All".

Minister Kersna participated in a round table of ministers and trade union leaders to discuss how can governments, teacher organisations and schools as centres of their communities collaborate around the future of education and the whole child to build back better and provide an excellent education to all.

„I’m delighted to note that in the past years, attention to mental health has been in the rise. We speak of attention we offer to our students and children, but we must not forget the teacher in this picture. As we know, teachers’ wellbeing will affect learners’ wellbeing and is in direct relation with their study performance. A study carried out this year in Estonia demonstrated that 28% of teachers face constant or frequent stress. This spring, we offered in cooperation with school psychologists, mental health support for teachers by setting up a helpline. Our experience demonstrated that the calls were long and distressing. We have thus decided to continue this programme by extending the target audience to students and parents and look for further ways to provide supportive presence to our school community,“ said minister Kersna.

”I believe that all teachers should be involved in the decision-making process, and that teachers must receive adequate support and feedback to their work. Only this way we can ensure that teachers can see that their work is valued and that their opinion is crucial,“ she added.

At the summit, delegations discussed important issues and identified national commitments that will contribute to the development of teacher policy and the enhancement of the teaching profession. The Estonian delegation agreed on two promises: to draw up an action plan to respond to the lack of new educators and to develop a career model for teachers, as well as to work to ensure greater equity in education: mitigate the impact of learning loss in the context of COVID-19, and to support mental health of students and teachers. The implementation of the promises will be presented at the next summit.

The most successful countries of the OECD PISA survey were invited to the summit, and this year the United States, Estonia, China, Spain, Canada, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Germany, Singapore, Slovenia, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom participated.

The summit was opened by Jill Biden, the first lady of the United States, Miguel Cardona, US Secretary of Education, Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills at the OECD, and Susan Hopgood, President of Education International, a global representative organisation of teachers.

In addition to the Minister of Education and Research, Estonia was represented at the meeting by Ülle Matsin, Coordinator of the Ministry's State Gymnasiums acting Head of the General Education Policy Department, Ants Koel, Chairman of the Universitas Association of Unions, Reemo Voltri, Chairman of the Estonian Education Workers' Union and teacher Margit Timakov.

This year, the summit was organized by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) together with the United States Ministry of Education and the international teachers organisation Education International, whose members are the Estonian Educators' Union and Universitas. In 2019, the summit took place in Finland and in 2020, due to the pandemic, virtually. Next year's summit will take place in Valencia, Spain.

International Summit on the Teaching Profession will be attended by world's top education leaders and potential leaders, who will discuss the development, issues and future prospects of teaching profession. Estonia has also participated in the meeting in previous years.

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