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Minister Mailis Reps introduced activities and goals for the coming academic year

30. August 2017 - 14:31
Minister Mailis Reps

At today’s press conference marking the start of this school year, Minister Mailis Reps noted that this school year the focus will be on raising the salaries of pre-school teachers, improving the support for students with special needs, and ensuring more even provision of support specialist services from pre-schools to general education and vocational schools.

Minister Mailis Reps pointed out that although the total number of students will keep growing for a few years, the number of first graders will start slowly dropping as from next year. "Therefore, the statement that every child and youngster deserves the best support is more than just a saying - it is an essential priority. To help our youth find optimal ways for self-actualisation, we need to ensure that they remain in the education system and are motivated. This means that, in the future the provision of support and financing needs to take into account that every child might feel the need for additional support at some point during their education, and such support should be provided swiftly," said the Minister.

Strong pre-school education is the cornerstone of Estonian education but the salaries of pre-school teachers are notably lagging behind the school teachers’ salaries and regional differences are vast. "Depending on the municipality, the salaries of pre-school teachers range from 500 to nearly 1,100 euros and this not reasonable, especially given their massive responsibility and high level of professionalism. The government has envisaged 61 million euros to tackle this problem over the following years and the impact of this additional funding should be evident already in the first half of this school year as, according to our estimates, the pre-school teachers’ salary will rise by up to one-quarter in 86% of municipalities, and by 25-62% in more than ten percent of municipalities," said Mailis Reps.

New funding formula for vocational education

The Ministry intends to introduce a new funding formula for vocational education starting next year. The applicable formula is used to fund student places in schools that might lead to unstable financing of schools due to adjustments in the students’ preferences. Further, the current system does not adequately contribute to the provision of support specialist services.

Minister Mailis Reps: "The new funding formula ensures that schools have access to baseline financing over a longer period which stabilises management and staff expenses. Also, the new system is more geared towards an individual approach to teaching. And the new funding scheme will take into account the performance of schools."


Next year, the Ministry will focus on topics summed up by an overview of the priorities for the school year:

Digital focus in learning

  • The government provides 10 million euros to support partnership projects between schools that aim to modernise teaching
  • Standard-determining tests on digital competency will be conducted for the first time
  • Schools can acquire digital equipment to diversify the teaching process

Presidency of the EU Council

  • EU experts for education, youth and research will meet in Tallinn to talk about the future of the sector
  • The education conference will focus on modern learning and teaching
  • The research conference will address the impact and value of research
  • The youth conference will bring together the European youth and policy-makers

Language

  • The government supports the teaching of Estonian as a second language, and of foreign languages
  • “Keeleklikk” (“Language e-course”) will launch B1 level e-courses for Estonian
  • The Ministry will develop the new Estonian language strategy
  • The new Estonian language technology programme will be developed

School network

  • The music and ballet school will be opened in a modern building in 2020
  • Preparations will be made to open three new state-owned upper secondary schools in 2018
  • Local government authorities can apply for more than 37 million euros to improve the cost-efficiency of the infrastructure of basic schools

Vocational education

  • Vocational education will be funded using the new formula as from next year
  • Vocational schools will start piloting the preparatory optional year
  • The Year of Skills will continue and culminate

Higher education

  • The Doctoral allowance will rise by 50%
  • The Ministry will start analysing the system of education allowances
  • Preparations will be made to renew legislation on higher education
  • Workplace-based study will be extended to include higher education
  • Kristjan Jaak scholarships for studying abroad will be available to Master’s students

Youth sector

  • The government grants additional support for extracurricular education and activities of the youth

Research

  • Seven research and education facilities will be constructed or renovated
  • The network of research and higher education institutions will be reconditioned
  • Various measures to support research and development will be launched
  • Results of the evaluation of research institutions will be available

Adult education

  • The government invites adults to continue their studies
  • OSKA helps to learn and teach the right things
  • New free adult training courses will be available

School inspection, examinations and monitoring - external assessment

  • As from the new academic year, the Ministry of Education and Research will manage all monitoring and focus on risk-based monitoring in the education sector
  • The contribution of upper secondary schools towards the development of students will be assessed
  • Schools will receive feedback on student satisfaction

Teachers and heads of school

  • Next teaching and learning international survey TALIS will be conducted
  • National rewards and grants for teachers will be introduced
  • The government will renew the start-up aid system for teachers
  • The growth of teachers’ salaries will continue

General and pre-school education

  • Local government authorities will be motivated to raise the pre-school teachers’ salary to match the minimum salary of school teachers
  • Teaching arrangements will be revised to better support students with special educational needs (SEN)
  • A pilot programme will be launched to improve the efficiency of teaching Estonian
  • The swim training programme will be renewed
  • Physical education will be transformed into modern physical activity education.
  • Estonian language teaching will be intensified in pre-schools
  • The school lunch allowance will rise to one euro as from next year
  • This school year, there will be five nationwide holidays for the first time

Other

  • Entrepreneurial training will gain momentum in general education and vocational schools and higher education institutions
  • Schools must ensure the neutrality of educational establishments before and during elections
  • The Ministry will analyse the possibility of extending compulsory school attendance up to 18 years of age

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