Minister Liina Kersna:
Your Excellency Al Hammadi,
Your Excellency Buamim,
Again! This is the word I repeat myself for years. Again, we are in the situation where we address, more than ever, that access to quality education is the basic right. By now, after long years of commitments and investments we should already say that access to digital education is the basic right – but we are far from that.
After each disruption we have the same challenges. It seems to me that we have locked the education into a vicious circle, so that we return to the same problems again and again and again. But why?
I believe we have left too many children behind focusing only on problems of the majority. This is also important, but so is the education of each and every child. We leave children behind while enabling access to education. We leave children behind while offering and accepting one type to teaching and learning. We leave children behind while buying only a few educational solutions. We need to change that! Education must be a prominent place in everyone's life.
Ladies and gentlemen, recent years have been challenging for everyone. COVID-19 has paralysed many school systems around the world. With school buildings closed, it is difficult and, in some places, even impossible, to continue giving education to children. And in places where education somewhat continued, we are still dealing with learning gaps and learning loss of the last years.
Standing here in front of you, dear entrepreneurs and government representatives, I am happy to talk about solutions, because they depend on you the most. If we, governments, and entrepreneurs work together, then the question of who gets educated or not can no longer arise. Educational and education technology solutions can nowadays bring knowledge to those who cannot attend school. Impactful solutions can involve more learners than teaching with blackboard and chalk. We need a variety of learning and teaching tools and methodologies; only then can we reach out to every single learner.
This has been the exact case of Estonia. When the corona crisis hit Estonia and schools had to close, learning from distance could continue instantly as if almost nothing had happened. This is because almost all schools in Estonia have been using e-school programs for years. There are numerous smart solutions in use such as digital databases, digital textbooks, e-learning materials, digital class diaries, digital assessments, not to mention various applications and programs. In normal times, these innovative solutions provide an easier way for parents, teachers, and children to collaborate and organise all the information necessary for teaching and learning. In times of crisis, it is a much-needed facilitator for distance learning.
I am strong believer that the cooperation between the state and the private sector helps to study in a smarter way. Educational e-services and study processes are developed openly, providing the private sector with an opportunity to contribute to advancement of the education system. The state supports establishment and growth of educational technology enterprises.
The digital education tools of Estonia are not merely an interesting experiment, but an integral part of our education system. Being the education minister of digi-native country – Estonia, I can assure you, that education technology, EdTech companies are not a threat to traditional learning and teaching, but enablers to many. We can do things as we are used to and have results, we are unfortunately used to. Let´s keep the good, but be open to new, since even traditions can be transmitted digitally.